Construction of Rs. 1,300-crore underground observatory in Theni district will start next year

An action plan is ready to establish a major research laboratory in Madurai for detector development meant for the ambitious Rs.1,300-crore India-based Neutrino Observatory(INO) project coming up in Theni district.

The Research and Development lab in Madurai will be a national facility that would be the nodal centre for the underground INO project.

“For all the neutrino experiments and research activities, the Madurai laboratory would be the nerve centre. All activities for INO project which is being set up along Bodi West Hills in Theni district will be coordinated through the Madurai nodal centre,” M. V. N. Murthy, a senior faculty at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, has said.

Talking to The Hindu here on Wednesday, he said that since all statutory clearances have been obtained for the INO project, the construction works at the site will begin sometime next year.

Pre-project works on

“Pre-project works are going on and lot of scientific/simulation meetings are taking place among the collaborators. The INO will turn out to be the largest basic science project in India and it would be a giant leap for us in the field of physics,” Prof. Murthy said. Construction works and installation of a huge detector/magnet will be completed in five years.

The major funding agencies for the Rs.1,300-crore INO project are the Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Science and Technology of Government of India.

While the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research is the host institution for this project, totally there are 26 leading research institutions involved in this major project. The Institute of Mathematical Sciences at Chennai too is one among the collaborators offering its theoretical expertise in the field.

Madurai centre

The nodal centre of the INO at Madurai would come up near Madurai Kamaraj University at Vadapalanji and it will be shaped up as a major centre for high energy physics to play a nodal role with collaborators, scientists and detector development.

Prof. Murthy said that 13.5 hectares of land was sought for setting up the Centre for High Energy Physics here and “we are in the process of completing the formalities to take possession of the land from the district administration.”

He was here to attend a lecture workshop on the latest discovery of God particle-Higgs boson-organised jointly by various science academies at American College.

“This discovery is a big push for us to focus on neutrinos and dark matter.

There is still so much to understand about our universe and INO is set to take Madurai into the national frontiers,” he expressed confidence.

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