HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - India ― a member of the international consortium building the Thirty Meter Telescope ― wants the $2 billion project to be moved from Mauna Kea to its secondary proposed site in the Canary Islands, according to Indian media reports.
The Hindu newspaper quoted Indian officials as expressing concerns that ongoing protests are likely to continue even if the project is ultimately built.
“India’s position has been clear. We would like the project to move to an alternate site if all the procedures and permits there are in place," Ashutosh Sharma, India’s secretary of science, told the newspaper.
Gov. David Ige was asked about the discord on HNN’s Sunrise on Wednesday morning and acknowledged that there are concerns from the project’s partners.
“It is an international consortium with different perspectives within that consortium ... working to really understand what their interest is and their timetable,” he said. “I can assure you the overwhelming majority of those involved with the telescope are committed to Mauna Kea.”
He added: “Members in the consortium recognize indigenous peoples and they want to be able to have the conversation and engagement and are willing to see if there is a better way to move forward and we are committed to encouraging that.”
The Wire reports that India has committed to covering about 10% of the project’s costs.
In addition to the United States and India, other countries that are members of the consortium include Canada, China and Japan.
TMT opponents argue that Mauna Kea is sacred to Native Hawaiians and that the mountain has been mismanaged for years.
In a statement, meanwhile, TMT officials said Mauna Kea is still the preferred site for the project.
“We continue to engage in private discussions with community members in finding a peaceful, lawful and non-violent way forward that honors and supports our scientific goals, environmental stewardship and the traditions and culture of Hawaii,” the observatory said, in a statement.
This story will be updated.