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No plan to beam neutrinos from Theni observatory, says physicist

K.S. Sudhi
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Refutes charges raised by Achuthanandan

The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project does not have plans to send neutrino beams to any part of the world from its lab, according to D. Indumathi, a faculty member in the Physics Department of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai.

Responding to the charges of Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan that neutrino rays will be fired from Chicago in the U.S. to the proposed observatory at Theni in Tamil Nadu, Dr. Indumathi said that even if such beams were sent, it would be same as the naturally occurring ones in the atmosphere. They are harmless by their very nature and are very weakly interacting particles, she told The Hindu .

The institute is one of the participating agencies of the neutrino project.

Dr. Indumathi pointed out that though the location of the observatory— at Bodi-West Hills near Bodinayakanur in Theni district—is close to the Kerala border, the tunnel and laboratory would be entirely located inside Tamil Nadu. The location was chosen considering the environmental and ecological factors, rock quality, and other technical requirements, she said.

The physicist maintained that the ‘tunnel and laboratory will be built using well-known engineering methods used in building road tunnels or metro rails that are coming up in many cities and will not affect nearby buildings or structures. The extracted rock debris, a useful construction material, will be stored and then disposed.”

Nearly 100 scientists from institutions including the Indian Institutes of Technology and various Indian universities are involved in the project which is jointly funded by the Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Science and Technology, she said.

On Mr. Achuthanandan’s allegation that the project would be used to observe the biodiversity changes of Idukki, she said that it was ‘hard to see how an underground observatory housing a neutrino telescope to observe the sky in neutrinos can study biodiversity changes over ground.’ Responding to the Leader of the Opposition’s allegations on secrecy surrounding the project, Dr. Indumathi said the project was extensively debated. All details of the project are available on www.ino.tifr.res.in including the technical details such as environment clearance, the goals and reach of the project, and its engineering aspects. “Many public outreach meetings have taken place in and around Madurai and Theni on the project and these have been widely reported in the media,” she said.


  • Nearly 100 scientists IITs and varsities involved in project

  • Project details available at http://www.ino.tifr.res.in


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