GMRT researchers raise concerns over Pune-Nashik high-speed rail project; MahaRail assures resolution
According to the researchers, the sparks caused by the pantograph during the movement of the train on the electric line will impact the frequencies used by the GMRT and may adversely affect their research work.
While the union railway ministry has given ‘in-principle’ approval to the Pune-Nashik high-speed railway project earlier this week, scientists at the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) located near Narayangaon, Pune, are concerned that the project may create problems for the facility. Whereas the Maharashtra Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation (MRIDC) or MahaRail has sought to allay the scientists’ apprehensions by assuring that the issue will be resolved in the coming days.
The GMRT is an array of 30 fully-steerable, parabolic radio telescopes with a diameter of 45 metres’ each. According to researchers at GMRT, the proposed route for the high-speed railway project at one particular point passes through a radius of around 1 kilometre from some of the antennae installed in the vicinity of the GMRT facility, spread over 15 square kilometres on the Pune-Nashik route.
According to the researchers, the sparks caused by the pantograph during the movement of the train on the electric line will impact the frequencies used by the GMRT and may adversely affect their research work. “This is a matter of serious concern to us as the proposed route passing in such close proximity can be very detrimental to the observatory. Although we had started dialogue with the MahaRail as early as January 2022, we still haven’t got any clear answers to our concerns and we are eagerly awaiting a resolution,” said Yashwant Gupta, director of the NCRA, which operates the GMRT.
Gupta said that while the MahaRail has initiated dialogue, the matter is nowhere near resolution. “Under those conditions, giving approval to go ahead is worrisome for us,” he said, referring to the centre’s ‘in-principle’ approval of the high-speed railway project.
Top officials from MahaRail however maintained that the issue will be resolved during discussions in the coming days. “Certain precautions need to be taken for the GMRT. Detailed discussions about the GMRT will be taking place during our meeting,” said Rajesh Kumar Jaiswal, managing director, MahaRail.
The high-speed railway project will get funding from the centre with the MahaRail executing it. The much awaited approval from the union railway ministry came during a meeting held in the capital between union railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in which other railway officials too were present. The Pune-Nashik high-speed railway project is estimated to cost ₹16,039 crore and is expected to be completed in 1,200 days from the start of actual work. Pune Railways had approved the project in June 2020. The necessary studies for the project had been carried out almost a decade ago, and the detailed project report had been prepared twice and finalised in 2018 when Fadnavis was the chief minister of Maharashtra.