Facility was constructed at a cost of Rs. 8.5 crore
Nearly half of the facilities — precisely two out the four galleries — at the Regional Science Centre here, which boasts of hundreds of experiments on various scientific principles, remains closed even after two weeks of its being thrown open to the public.
Inaugurated by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa via video conference from Chennai on May 6, it was constructed at a cost of Rs. 8.5 crore, the cost shared equally by the State and Central Governments.
The Science Centre has three permanent galleries on science and textiles, a temporary gallery where the topic would change periodically, a science park where children’s play things like see-saw also explain science besides a 3D theatre and an auditorium for conducting scientific seminars.
Of these, sources in the centre say visitors are allowed only into the gallery on textiles and the temporary gallery which now features exhibits on astronomy.
The centre, which spans across 6.71 acres, attracts around 300 visitors, mostly families with their children, on week days and more than 500 on the weekends.
However, at present, there is only one permanent staff from the Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Centre (TNSTC) to take care of the facility.
Last week, a curator and a technical assistant from the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) were present for some time, as was a sole electrician from the TNSTC. They have since left.
Since the centre does not have enough personnel to safeguard all the exhibits, visitors are not being allowed into ‘How it Works’ and ‘Fun Science’ galleries.
The 3D theatre is also kept closed as is the planetarium, which also features a high-powered telescope for viewing celestial objects, says a centre staff.
The museum was developed by the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) and is yet to be handed over to the State Government.
Normally, the NCSM officials said that the handing over of their facility to State Government and the inauguration happen on the same day. In the case of the Regional Science Centre at Coimbatore, the inauguration was done on May 6 and the handing over has been scheduled for May 26.
The NCSM has developed 22 science centres that have been handed over to different States and Union Territories of India.
Even on the day of inauguration, senior NCSM officials had expressed concern that the facility was being inaugurated even before they could train one of the 18 scientific, technical and administrative personnel required to operate such facilities.
The Kolkata-based NCSM is an autonomous society under the Union Ministry of Culture and administers 25 science centres, museums and planetarium across India besides the Central Research and Training Laboratory in Kolkata.