Theni Neutrino Observatory (INO) project gets environmental clearance

What: India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project

Where: Theni, Tamilnadu

Why: Basic research on  basic particle Neutrino

  • The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has granted environmental clearance to the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project considering it  as a special case with specific conditions. 
  • One of conditions include requirement of consent from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to establish and operate the project. 
  • Under the project India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) is to  be set up in Bodi West hills at Theni in Tamil Nadu. MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (Infra 2), gave its approval at its meeting on March 5, 2018. 
  • The committee was appraised that  there was no scope for radioactivity and leaching of water and these have been explained to the courts.
  • It also has been  clarified that studies showed there would be no impact of blasting on any habitation in the vicinity.  

About the Project

  • The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) Project is a multi-institutional effort aimed at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approximately 1200 meter.
  • The underground laboratory, consisting of a large cavern of size 132m × 26m × 20m and several smaller caverns, will be accessed by a 1900 m long and 7.5 m wide tunnel.
  • INO project is jointly supported by Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science & Technology (DST) with DAE acting as the nodal agency. 
  • Objective: The objective of INO is to conduct basic research on the elementary particle called neutrino.
  • INO is expected to galvanise interest in basic science research in the whole country and particularly in and around Theni and Madurai districts of Tamil Nadu. Science students across the country will have opportunity to pursue cutting edge research in the field of particle physics while being located in India. 
  • The observatory will be located underground so as to provide adequate shielding to the neutrino detector from cosmic background radiation.
  • As per the scientists, tunnel construction is very common and will not have any impact on environment, water sources or dams in the region.  
  • The scientists say that the operation of INO will have no release of radioactive or toxic substances. It is not a weapons laboratory and will have no strategic or defence applications.

About Neutrinos

  • Neutrinos are fundamental particles belonging to the lepton family.
  • They come in three flavours, one associated with electrons and the others with their heavier cousins the muon and the Tau.
  • According to standard model of particle physics, they are mass less. However recent experiments indicate that these charge-neutral fundamental particles, have finite but small mass which is unknown.
  • They oscillate between flavours as they propagate.

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