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Govt move to solve impasse

Nov. 8: The state government has appealed to the National Council of Science Museums to send a written clarification regarding its transaction procedure in a bid to remove the deadlock in getting an astronomy gallery for Guwahati Planetarium.

Sky-gazers have been deprived of an astronomy gallery because of an impasse between the Assam government and the council over the protocol of purchasing objects. While the government prefers open bidding, the council does not.

The state government had sanctioned Rs 38 lakh around a year ago to set up the gallery, which would have been the second in the country after Kerala.

The council, which is the world’s largest network of science centres/museums under a single umbrella, wanted the entire project amount in advance, which goes against Dispur’s protocol.

The council is the only agency in the country, which can set up the astronomy gallery.

The state government is hopeful of receiving a reply from the council this month. “We are hopeful of receiving the clarification within this month. Once we get the clarification, the government will release the amount,” said an official of the planetarium. The official added that once the amount is released, it would take at least four months to set up the machinery.

The gallery will have various models and displays that shed light on astronomy, evolution of the subject, its different phases and other aspects.

The government also has plans to set up a mobile planetarium costing Rs 5.5 lakh and buy an astro-van costing Rs 21.9 lakh.

The mobile planetarium will be in the form of an inflatable, portable dome, while the van will have a telescope fitted to it. Both are part of an outreach programme of the government to show special celestial events in schools or in remote areas. Guwahati Planetarium, the largest planetarium in the Northeast, uses instrument from technology developers like the Goto GX, GX star-field projector, 60 special-effects projectors and the sky theatre’s sound system to create the sky-watching shows. The Japanese technology developers, Goto Inc. supplies the software.