About Indian Neutrino Observatory
- The Indian Neutrino Observatory (INO) is a proposed underground particle physics research mega project.
- The project was conceived in 2005, a site under the Bodi West Hills in Tamil Nadu’s Theni district was identified by 2009.
- The objective of the project was to study neutrinos in a 1,200-metre deep cave.
- The INO is proposed to be operated by seven primary and 13 participatory research institutes, spearheaded by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Indian Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IIMSc).
What are neutrinos ?
- A neutrino is a fundamental elementary particle, and atmospheric neutrinos can be studied when solar radiation hits the earth’s atmosphere.
- They are very hard to detect as they hardly interact with other forms of matter due to their lack of electrical charge.
- They are produced in high-energy processes such as within stars and in supernovae. On earth, they are produced by particle accelerators and nuclear power plants.
- Neutrino detectors are often built underground to isolate them from cosmic rays from space and any other sources of background radiation.
Why in news?
- Recently, the Tamil Nadu government filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court disallowing the construction of the proposed Indian Neutrino Observatory in Theni district, at the Bodi West Hills site.
- The affidavit came in the wake of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) providing a no-objection certificate (NoC) to the project.
Why is Tamil Nadu opposing the move?
- The Tamil Nadu is opposing the move due to ecological concerns such as
- The main concern mentioned in the affidavit is that the project falls exactly on the hill slopes of part of the Western Ghats, which align within it a significant tiger corridor, namely the Mathikettan-Periyar tiger corridor.
- The tiger corridor connects the Periyar Tiger Reserve on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border and the Mathikettan Shola National Park.
- Around 31.45 hectares of the construction site fell inside the Mathikettan-Periyar tiger corridor, one of India’s 32 major tiger corridors recognised by the NTCA.
- The TN government’s affidavit states that even though experiments in the observatory would be conducted over a kilometer underground, construction activities like large-scale blasting, excavating, tunneling, and transportation, as well as safety and security measures around the facility, would affect tiger activity as well as the local ecology.
- At a depth of 1,000 meters, mountain rock would be under tremendous pressure and the vertical stress is expected to be greater than 270 kg per square metre which will create problems like rock bust and roof collapse.