- Tamil Nadu has made clear to the Supreme Court that it does not want the Indian Neutrino Observatory (INO) to be set up in a sensitive ecological zone in the Western Ghats at great cost to wildlife, biodiversity, and by ignoring the local opposition and public agitations to the project.
- The project in question falls exactly on the hill slopes of this part of the Western Ghats, which align within it a significant tiger corridor, namely the Mathikettan-Periyar tiger corridor.
- This corridor links the Periyar Tiger Reserve along the Kerala and Tamil Nadu borders and the Mathikettan Shola National Park.
- The proposed project area also ecologically links to the eastern habitats, where Srivilliputhur Meghamalai Tiger Reserve is located. It hosts tigers from this region and helps in genetic dispersal.
- The area is a significant watershed and catchment zone for the rivers Sambhal and Kottakudi.
About the project:
- The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) Project is a multi-institutional effort aimed at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approx.1200 m for non-accelerator based high energy and nuclear physics research in India. The initial goal of INO is to study neutrinos.
- It is a mega-science project jointly funded by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
What are neutrinos?
- Neutrinos, first proposed by Swiss scientist Wolfgang Pauli in 1930, are the second most widely occurring particle in the universe, only second to photons, the particle which makes up light.
- In fact, neutrinos are so abundant among us that every second, there are more than 100 trillion of them passing right through each of us — we never even notice them.
- Neutrinos occur in three different types, or flavours. These are separated in terms of different masses.
- From experiments so far, we know that neutrinos have a tiny mass, but the ordering of the neutrino mass states is not known and is one of the key questions that remain unanswered till today.
- This is a major challenge INO will set to resolve, thus completing our picture of the neutrino.
- Neutrinos hold the key to several important and fundamental questions on the origin of the Universe and the energy production in stars.
- Another important possible application of neutrinos is in the area of neutrino tomograph of the earth, that is detailed investigation of the structure of the Earth from core on wards.
- This is possible with neutrinos since they are the only particles which can probe the deep interiors of the Earth.