A large excavator symbolically scratched the earth where the 26-metre-high, 110-metre-long Cryostat Workshop will soon be erected.
In the Indian pantheon, Ganesha is the one who can remove the hurdles from the path of our human endeavours. In India, anything of importance—a wedding, journey or construction project—begins with an invocation to the elephant-headed deity.
Since a small portion of the ITER platform has been made available to the Indian Domestic Agency for the construction of the Cryostat Workshop
, it was natural to place this football-field-sized piece of India under the protection of the "Remover of Obstacles."
Throwing a bridge between the high-technology world of ITER and the Indian tradition of times immemorial, Bharat Doshi, Cryostat Section leader, first explained to his guests during a ceremony held on 6 June how the giant ITER cryostat will be assembled from 54 segments manufactured in India.
He then proceeded to "break the coconut" and share the coconut meat among the guests—a ritual that is also meant to appease Mother Earth, whose tranquillity will soon be disturbed by the construction works.
Once every guest had broken a coconut, a large excavator symbolically scratched the earth where the 26-metre-high, 110-metre-long Cryostat Workshop will soon be erected.
Coconut water falls on ''a piece of India'' during a blessing ceremony held on 6 June on the site of the future Cryostat Workshop.
The same Indian company (Larsen & Toubro Ltd
) that will manufacture the cryostat will also build the Workshop and manage the assembly and welding activities all the way through to the final integration of the cryostat into the machine.
"We have already launched the procurement process for the raw material," explained Philippe Tollini, Larsen & Toubro's director for Europe and Russia. "We are presently in the manufacturing design stage, which will be completed by September. We should begin to receive the first cryostat segments from India at the end of 2014, beginning of 2015."
"The cryostat is an essential part of the ITER installation," explained ITER Deputy Director-General Rem Haange. "It has to be absolutely leak-tight and its assembly requires kilometres of welding. It is a tough job not only to manufacture but also to assemble."
Last fall, Larsen & Toubro awarded the construction of the 5,500 square-metre Cryostat Workshop to the French company Spie-Batignolles, which was part of the consortium that built the adjacent Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility.
Construction should begin in earnest in the coming weeks and take a year and half.