Kunal Bose, an executive with a private company in Ranchi, had planned a solar Sunday for his eight-year-old son Subir. But, their trip to Sidho-Kanhu Park only left behind dim memories
Businessman Karan Kumar too had planned a boys’ day out with his two sons, who are science buffs, on Saturday. They returned equally disappointed
Within a month of its mega launch, Jharkhand’s maiden energy park has lost its spark for want of a dedicated guardian to run its daily affairs.
Built at a cost of Rs 3 crore, the Sidho-Kanhu Park saw the first-of-its-kind sun museum debut on November 8, boasting a rooftop battery bank, a 225sqm exhibition hall with touchscreen energy encyclopaedias, a smokeless chullah and a solar toy train among others. But, what seemed bright and sunny on the outside, was perhaps clouded with uncertainties on the inside.
Visitors to the park have in unison confirmed that none of the amusement rides like the toy train and battery car or infotainment exhibits such as the BMI machine, solar cooker, water turbine and even streetlights for that matter have functioned uninterruptedly till date.
In fact, the toy train chugged on its tracks only for couple of days before it was grounded in the conspicuous absence of human resource.
“We had read so much about the solar museum and park in newspapers. The chief minister himself inaugurated it last month. But, when I took my son for a surprise visit on Sunday, it turned totally unpleasant. The museum was closed and, not a soul — well, there were very few of them — could say why. First you open a facility for the people and then you keep it closed — doesn’t make sense, does it?” said Kokar resident Kunal Bose.
Hinoo resident Karan Kumar said he had heard of the unique museum from his sons — Samir and Sahil. “My children have a knack for science and were very excited about the visit. They had studied about solar energy in school and wanted to see how things worked in real. Unfortunately, the museum was closed. We just strolled in the park, amidst the lifeless exhibits, and came back,” he said.
The much-touted solar museum — arguably the first in eastern India — was conceptualised and developed by Jharkhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (JREDA). Managing director of JREDA Ashok Kumar admitted “operational glitches”, but emphasised that they were scouting for an agency to run the facility.
“JREDA doesn’t have its own manpower to run the park and museum. We are in talks with a couple of agencies for outsourcing the job. In all likelihood, we will entrust the Jharkhand State Forest Development Corporation Limited, which owns the park, with the job,” Kumar said, adding that a proposal to this effect had been forwarded to the government two weeks ago.
The question remains that why this teething issue was not addressed before inaugurating the showpiece museum?
“Maintenance of the energy park was never an issue. The agency (Tata Power Solar Systems Limited) that developed it for us will do the job for 10 years according to agreement. All we need is an agency for day-to-day operations. The forest development corporation has, in principal, agreed to our request. We are waiting for a formal nod from the energy secretary,” the senior JREDA official said.
Asked for comments, state energy secretary V.K. Singh said the letter was expected to come to his department, but he did not know the exact status. “I am yet to see the proposal. I can let you know in a day or two.”
On whether the forest corporation would be handed over the job anytime soon, he added: “We will do all that is needed to ensure proper functioning of the park.”
Will a day-to day operator revive the park’s lost charm?