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Neutrino observatory work to begin in April

Shastry V. Mallady
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Special teams formed to take up pre-project works at the site in Theni district

With all mandatory clearances in place for setting up the Rs.1,375-crore India-based Neutrino Observatory in Theni district, preliminary work on the project is set to start in April.

The country's first underground experimental laboratory spread over 26 hectares, which will detect and study neutrinos, the smallest particles known to humans, will come up at Pottipuram village in Bodi West Hills. The huge project is being undertaken jointly by the Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Science and Technology with the participation of 25 leading research institutions in the country.

“I visited the site last week and everything is ready to start pre-project work. The first task is to have road connectivity to the place where the neutrino observatory is coming up,” Naba K.Mondal, chief spokesperson of INO project and a senior scientist at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, told The Hindu over phone on Friday.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests accorded clearance in October 2010 for the INO project which will have an underground experimental facility to study neutrinos, which are elusive and fundamental particles of nature. Dr. Mondal said Rs.66 crore had been sanctioned for pre-project work, which includes road connectivity, water connection for the project site, temporary connection for power supply and prototype of the detector which will capture neutrinos.

“The total estimated cost for INO project is Rs.1,375 crore. We are contemplating to start pre-project work anytime in April because by that time the pending paper work will be completed,” he said. According to him, a few temporary places are being identified to position the staff involved in the project.

A huge neutrino detector would be built in a cavern under a massive rock, for which a tunnel would be dug. While the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research is the nodal institution for carrying out the INO project, it will have nearly 100 scientists from leading institutions in the country. Funds for the project will be allocated by the Planning Commission.

The INO spokesperson said the Madurai district administration would soon hand over land near Madurai Kamaraj University for locating the INO Project headquarters.

Meanwhile, D. Indumathi, another scientist and the Outreach Coordinator for this massive project, said a lot of peripheral work had to be done in and around the project site, after which the actual work would begin. First, there should be road connectivity from Rasingapuram to Pottipuram as there is no road for a stretch of five km at present. “There is good support from the Theni district administration and Highways Department. We need road facility to carry the machinery required for construction work and other activities,” she said.

As part of its corporate social responsibility the INO project will take up important works in Pottipuram which will benefit the people.

As per the Theni District Collector's call, The INO project also takes up Corporate Social Responsibility initiative through which important works required for Pottipuram village will be provided for the benefit of people in the area, Dr. Indumathi said.


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