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Push for planetarium

Ranchi, Jan. 27: The much-delayed planetarium in the capital has received a fresh lease of life with the state government deciding to lay its foundation stone at Chiroundi by mid-February.

During his Republic Day speech on Sunday, chief minister Hemant Soren announced that his government aimed to lay the foundation stone for the project by February 15.

The planetarium will be built on the spacious 13-acre campus at Chiroundi, which currently houses the 4,200sqm Regional Science Centre, Ranchi.

State science and technology department secretary A.K. Pandey told The Telegraph that the detailed project report (DPR) for the project was in its final stages.

Based on this report, the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), an autonomous organisation under the Union ministry of culture, will build the planetarium. The NCSM also developed the existing Regional Science Centre.

Though the cost of the planetarium can be finalised only once the DPR is final, a source at state science and technology department said Rs 1 crore had been set aside for the project. Estimates suggest the planetarium will cost at least Rs 11 crore — Rs 3 crore for the building and Rs 8 crore for the equipment. Once the project kicks off, funds will be earmarked in the upcoming fiscal.

The proposal for a planetarium was first mooted in 2002 by then science and technology minister Samresh Singh, but was taken up seriously only when the Regional Science Centre was set up.

Developed by NCSM, the Rs 6.5-crore Regional Science Centre was inaugurated in November 2010 with features such as galleries of 3D interactive exhibits, animations, models, replicas, computer-based quiz, simulacra of a coal mine and a forest, inflatable dome planetarium, auditorium, conference room-cum-library, children’s activity area and science demonstration corner.