Despite Vaiko’s Opposition, Centre Approves Neutrino Project in Tamil Nadu

Government has approved India-based Neutrino Observatory Project with estimated cost of Rs. 1583.05 crore, informed minister Jitendra Singh to Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

The Government has approved the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) Project, to be located in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu and financial sanction has been issued on January 6, this year, said MoS in the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel, PG & Pensions, Dr Jitendra Singh in a reply to an unstarred question in Rajya Sabha today.

The project at an estimated cost of Rs.1583.05 crore includes construction of an underground lab and associated surface facilities at Pottipuram in Bodi West hills of Theni District, in Tamil Nadu, construction of a 50 kilo-ton magnetised iron calorimeter detector to study a fundamental particle called neutrino, and setting up Inter-Institutional Centre for High Energy Physics at Madurai.

Inside CERN  (Photo: CERN)

Inside CERN (Photo: CERN)

The environmental impact of the project has been taken into account before sanction of the project. Detailed studies on the environmental impact of the project were carried out by Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Environment & Forests, and geotechnical studies were carried out by the Geological Survey of India (GSI), said the minister.

The Project is located in Tamilnadu and the application for environmental clearance was submitted to the Department of Environment & Forests, Government of Tamil- Nadu. The Government of Tamil Nadu recommended and forwarded the application to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India for concurrence. The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India has cleared the project.

Opposing the project, MDMK general secretary Vaiko has asked the people of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to protest against the India-based Neutrino project and even met Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy seeking his support against the project.

In his meeting, Vaiko submitted a petition to Chandy to join the opposition against the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project as it would impact Kerala’s Idukki district too.

Vaiko told Chandy that the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has not given its consent saying it would endanger the Western Ghats and several dams and check dams in Kerala.

The INO, to be set up at Pottipuram in Tamil Nadu, consists of underground laboratory with a rock cover and associated surface facilities in Bodi West hills of Theni district of Tamil Nadu.

Claiming that the Neutrino project would harm Idukki district in Kerala, Vaiko said that it would cause air pollution and in turn, affects the agriculturists. “Agricultural lands would be acquired to lay roads into the project venue and to dump waste material. The area would be deeply affected as they had to dig two huge tunnels by breaking the hill,” he said.

Earlier, Vaiko also said the Mullaperiyar dam would also stand to get affected. He says Pottipuram has been chosen as a last choice after the sites in the Nilgiris, Kerala, Assam and Himalayas were given up.

More than the project, he listed the construction phase that would affect the residents of the ares as seismic vibrations caused by blasting of rocks to create a tunnel would cause damage to the dams in a circumference of 70 km and Idukki district would be the worst hit.

He has also alleged that the Modi government was conspiring to destroy the natural resources of Tamil Nadu through a series of projects and criticised the Tamil Nadu government for not moving to stop the project.

The Centre has given permission to launch a project, Neutrino Club, for experiments in high energy physics and India was about to join the project.

The underground project will comprise a complex of caverns, the main cavern, which will house the current detector will be 130 meters long, 26 meters wide and 30 meter high. There will be two smaller caverns to be used for setting up experiments for neutrino double detector and dark matters.

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