THENI: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi directing Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha to monitor the progress of the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project, the hope for its implementation suddenly appears brighter now.
The INO is one of the biggest experimental particle physics projects undertaken in the country. The Central government had given its nod for the implementation of the prestigious project at an estimated cost of Rs 1,600 crore.
A few weeks ago, there was a buzz over shifting the project to Andhra Pradesh. But the PM is said to have directed that the project stay in Tamil Nadu.
A team of experts selected Amparappar Hill in Pottipuram near Thevaram, on a 66-acre land for the project. The State government gave the land free of cost for the project. However, following objection by a few people who said that the project would impact agriculture, work on the project stopped two years ago.
Prof Stephan Inbanathan, one of collaborators of the project, said by the time the project becomes operational, the district would have become a familiar name at the global level. Stating that the project would not affect anybody or agriculture, he said it would be a big boon to the State.
B Sathyanarayana, Senior Scientific Officer, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, told Express over the phone that the Centre has come forward to resume the project on which around Rs 75 crore has been spent so far. About Rs 17.14 crore was spent on procuring 30 acres near Nagamalai-Madurai to establish a Inter Institution for High Energy Physics building. He said the State government recently gave its approval for the building. Also, Rs 20.45 crore was spent on laying an approach road from Rasingapuram to the project site and Rs 4.5 crore on getting water supply for the project.
However, the project work was halted, as it is awaiting environmental clearance and a clearance from the State Pollution Control Board to begin research work, said Sathyanarayana. A team of scientists and experts met the officials of the Tamil Nadu State Environment Impact Assessment Authority and submitted necessary documents. The team also interacted with the officials on November 27.