Mysore's loss turns into Madurai's gain

Rs 1,000-crore neutrino research centre to be shifted from State

New INO site at Bodi West Hills.

Mysore’s loss has turned out to be Madurai’s gain. The research centre would now come up on a 33 acre land in the outskirts of Madurai, where close to 200 scientists and technical staffs would work to find out telltale signature of these spooky particles. 

Closure of the Kolar Gold Field in early 1990s triggered the demise of Indian neutrino studies that took place for almost three decades between 1960 and 1990s. The INO seeks to revive it, now.

The initial site for the INO project was Singara in the Nilgiri district. But since the area falls within a buffer zone of Madhumalai tiger reserve, the union environment ministry under Jairam Ramesh did not approve the site. Mysore was thought as the neutrino research hub if INO was to come up in Nilgiri.

“But since the location has now shifted to Bodi West Hills in Theni district, we are shifting the research centre to Madurai,” said NK Mandal, INO spokesperson and a physicist at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.

Bodi West Hill site received the approval from the union ministry of environment and forest last October. The scientists are now awaiting clearances from Tamil Nadu government for setting up the research lab.

“Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary has formed a panel to look into our requirements of land, road, water and electricity. Unless the land is transferred to the department of atomic energy, constructions can not be started,” Mandal said adding that the department of atomic energy would approach the Union Cabinet for formal approval after getting green signals from the Jayalallitha government. Besides neutrino detection, INO would be open to other foreign collaborations, one of which could be for detecting esoteric cosmic phenomenon known as dark energy – believed to be the main constituent for the Universe.

The site was offered to other groups during a high-energy physics conference in Mumbai last week.

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