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Delayed date with planets draws near

- Hunt for agency to draft blueprint of planetarium in Chiroundi, debut expected next year

Ranchi can hope to stargaze in 2013.

The much-delayed planetarium project in Chiroundi has started taking baby steps, with the science and technology department scouting for a consultant to prepare the blueprint.

The facility, planned at the Ranchi Science Centre, had been dragging its feet over land acquisition hurdles. In the past, local residents have staged many a demonstration against the project, contending that the land belonged to them and that the state government had not adequately compensated them.

Departmental officials, however, claim these problems have been sorted out and the planetarium will see the light of day by next year.

“It will be an added attraction both from educational and entertainment points of view. Stargazing and study of planets are fascinating experiences for astronomy enthusiasts and we hope students will be benefited in general too,” said a senior official of the department.

The department had put out an advertisement on Friday (December 21), inviting expressions of interest (EOIs) from agencies having adequate knowledge of planetarium equipment, their development and operation.

Science and technology director Arun Kumar said the last date for submitting EOIs was January 2, 2013.

“The EOI is being invited to prepare a detailed project report. It will include utility of a planetarium for astronomical studies, details of available planetarium systems and their comparative study among other details that will help us select the best model for our project in Ranchi,” Kumar added.

The cost of the planetarium can be estimated only after the DPR is in place. The senior official maintained that the project would be a part of the Ranchi Science Centre, which sprawls over 13 acres.

Informed sources said the planetarium proposal was first mooted in 2002 by then science and technology minister Samresh Singh. Things, however, started moving only last year after the science centre came up.

This December, a seven-member committee was formed by present science and technology minister C.P. Chaudhary to look into the project. The core job of the committee is to facilitate selection of a consultant and scrutiny of the detailed project report prepared by it.

Developed by National Council of Science Museums, the Ranchi Science Centre cost Rs 6.5 crore and was inaugurated in November 2010. The 13-acre facility houses three permanent galleries of 3D interactive exhibits, animations, models, replicas, computer-based quizzes and simulacra of a coal mine and a forest. The centre also houses an inflatable dome planetarium, 3D science theatre, auditorium, conference room-cum-library, computer activity hall, children’s activity area and science demonstration corner.


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