Union cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved setting up of India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) in Bodi West Hills, Tamil Nadu.
The INO Project Director, and Senior Professor at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, Naba Mondal, in an email, said, the the cabinet has approved the project "at an estimated cost of Rs. 1500 crore.”
The project will be jointly supported by the Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Science and Technology. The infrastructural support will be given by the Government of Tamil Nadu as the project is located in the State.
Prof. Mondal said, “This underground laboratory will be set up near Pottipuram village in the Bodi West Hills of Theni district, Tamil Nadu to study the properties of the neutrino.”
An Inter-Institutional Centre for High Energy Physics (IICHEP) will also be established in Madurai, which is about 110 km from the proposed site of the neutrino observatory.
Along with the setting up of the underground laboratory and the IICHEP, the Government of India has also approved the construction of a 50,000 tonne magnetised iron calorimeter detector (ICAL) to study the properties of the neutrino, in particular the mass hierarchy among different types of neutrino.
A press release from the organisation also said that the INO laboratory will host other experiments such as the neutrino-less double beta decay and the search for dark matter.
Prof Mondal, who heads the project, was earlier associated with the pioneering experiments at the the underground laboratory at Kolar Gold Fields.
Prof. K.Vijayraghavan, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India said “combining high-end training in the best of experimental physics with the best of research, INO will be the agent of transforming physics of this kind in India and will make a global impact. The outcome of this investment will be extraordinary and long term.”
Prof. Mondal was confident that the project "would put India back on the world map of underground science, a position that was held during second half of the 20th century when Indian scientists had the privilege of working at the world’s deepest underground lab at Kolar Gold Mines."
This will be the second big project that the government has approved, the first being the thirty-metre telescope, which would come up in Hawaii.