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Fresh hurdle for INO

A quick journey into the history of the India-based neutrino observatory that was proposed at Pottipuram in Theni district.

Fresh hurdle for INO
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Chennai

1989: The possibility of a neutrino observatory in India was discussed first in several meetings.

2000: Again, the issue figured in the first meeting of the neutrino physics and cosmology working group during a workshop held at Chennai in January 2000. It was decided at this meeting to collate concrete ideas for a neutrino detector. 

2001: A meeting was held in the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, in February with the explicit objective of bringing the experimentalists and theorists in this field together for the neutrino programme. The INO collaboration was formed during this meeting.

In the same year in September, the first formal meeting of the collaboration was held at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, where various subgroups were formed to study detector options and electronics, physics goals and simulations.

2002: A document was presented to the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), which mooted establishment of an India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO). 

A Neutrino Collaboration Group (NCG) was set up for the purpose A MoU was signed by the participant institutes in August to activate the NCG.

2009: Union Environment Ministry denied permission to the DAE for the INO project at Singara in Nilgiris, as it falls in the buffer zone of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve based on a report.  However, the report suggested an alternate site near Suruli falls in Theni district. Since Suruliyar too is also in a reserved forest, it was mooted to move the project to nearby Thevaram, 20–30 km away from Suruli falls.

2010: The Ministry of Environment & Forests approved setting up the INO at Pottipuram on Bodi West Hills in Theni district.

2012: Land was allocated to the INO collaboration by the government of Tamil Nadu. Naba K Mondal, chief spokesperson of INO project and a senior scientist at the TIFR, Mumbai, informed that of the total project cost of Rs 1,500 crore, a sum of Rs 66 crore has been sanctioned for the initial work that of laying roads. The first task will be to have a road  connectivity to the site.

2015: Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved to set up the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO).

February: The southern bench of National Green Tribunal ordered notices to the Centre and state on a petition challenging the environmental clearance granted to the INO project. 

March: The Madurai High Court Bench  restrained the Centre from commencing the work on the INO and directed the Union government to get the nod of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) for the project.

Participants Institutes

An MoU spelling out operational aspects was signed by seven primary partners: TIFR, Mumbai, BARC, Mumbai, IMSC, Chennai, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, Kolkata, Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad and Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar.

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