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Tamil Nadu says no to Indian Neutrino Observatory project in Theni

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    24th Feb, 2022

Context

Recently, the Tamil Nadu government filed an affidavit in the apex court stating the project in Theni would cause irreparable damage to the Western Ghats.

About

What is a neutrino?

  • A neutrino is an even smaller subatomic particle that, while similar to an electron, has no electrical charge. 
  • It has a very small mass, which researchers believe might even be a zero. 
  • They are one of the most abundant particles in the universe and their study helps in understanding the nature of the universe.

About Indian Neutrino Observatory project

  • India is constructing a giant Neutrino Observatory (INO) in a 1,300 metres (4,300 ft) deep cave under Ino Peak near Theni, Tamil Nadu, India.
  • The INO is a particle physics research project to primarily observe and study atmospheric neutrinos.
  • The project is anticipated to provide a precise measurement of neutrino mixing parameters and will be a multi-institute collaboration.
  • The project is located in a deep 2 km tunnel as it reduces the noise from the extant cosmic rays and identifies the rare neutrino interactions.
    • The scale of the project makes it one of the biggest experimental particle physics projects undertaken in India.
  • On completion, the main 51000 ton magnetized iron calorimeter (ICAL) experiment of the INO is expected to include the world’s largest magnet. 
  • This magnet will be four times larger than the 12,500-tonne magnet currently in the Compact Muon Solenoid detector at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • While the project was initially due to be completed in 2015, its construction got delayed by the late clearance from the Ministry of Environment(India) as it was to be located in the Bodi West Hills Reserved Forest in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu.
  • The Project officials have assured that the INO project measures only cosmic rays and will not disturb the ecosystem around the site and nor will it release any radiation, as it does not have any radioactive substance. 
  • The estimated cost of the project is Rs 1,500 crores.

Key-highlights

  • The Tamil Nadu stated that it would not permit the construction for the proposed Indian Neutrino Observatory at Bodi West Hills in Theni district.
  • The project, if implemented, will affect the flora and fauna of the Periyar Tiger Reserve and Mathikettan Shola National Park in the Western Ghats — which have earned global reputation for effective conservation.
    • The proposed site is spread across Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  • The affidavit came two days after the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) gave a no-objection certificate (NoC) to the project.
  • It marks the shutting of doors for the project initially mooted by the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and then by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
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