With just over a week left for the 97th Indian Science Congress (ISC) to kick-off, the University of Kerala campus at Karyavattom is undergoing a rapid makeover.

Construction and renovation activities are on in full swing on the campus, which will host the congress for the first time on behalf of the university and the Indian Space Research Organisation. The congress, to be held from January 3 to 7, is returning to Kerala after a gap of more than 20 years.

Organising committee officials said civil works to the tune of Rs.5 crore were under way on the campus. These include maintenance and restoration of various department buildings, hostel buildings, auditorium, roads and construction of temporary enclosures. The congress will have 14 sessions on various sub-topics at a time.

The construction of the semi-permanent main venue where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will inaugurate the congress is nearing completion. “The main venue, being constructed at a cost of around Rs.1 crore, will have a seating capacity of nearly 6,500 delegates. The construction is being done as per the guidelines in the Prime Minister’s Blue Book and under the supervision of police and security personnel,” local organising secretary of the event and university Senate member T. Rajamohan said.

Infrastructure upgrade

One of the largest auditoriums that is housed in the golden jubilee building of University Engineering College is also being renovated. “This auditorium was left unattended for a long time with its many problems, including acoustics. We are modifying it at a cost of around Rs.70 lakh so that it can host the plenary sessions and public lectures during the ISC. After the ISC, this auditorium can be used for conducting seminars and other programmes,” Mr. Rajamohan said.

A sum of Rs.1 crore is being spent for restoration of the university guest houses and hostel buildings. Apart from the campus hostels, outstation students attending the congress will be accommodated at the PMG Youth Hostel and the University Guest House at Palayam. Priority has been given to restoration of hostel toilets, flooring and painting. The Postgraduate Women’s Hostel on the campus has, however, been excluded.

The campus health centre has been renovated at a cost of nearly Rs.10 lakh. The Manuscripts Library building, the only structure with Kerala-style architecture on the campus, is also being renovated at a cost of Rs.10 lakh. A 70,000 sq ft semi-permanent exhibition hall is another major structure that is coming up.

The general food court being put up in front of the golden jubilee building will seat 1,000. A separate children’s food court is being erected near the venue of the Children’s Science Congress, near the Department of Aquatic Biology. A 400-member team from Hyderabad will cater to the food and refreshment needs of the delegates.

Support facilities

To ensure uninterrupted water supply, the Kerala Water Authority will provide a temporary additional connection from Pongumoodu to the campus.

“The Water Resources Minister has also constituted a three-member team to address any issues or emergency regarding water supply on the campus during the Science Congress,” Mr. Rajamohan said.

Kerala Gramom, an area demarcated and artistically designed to showcase the traditional culture and practices of the State, will be another interesting feature. Designed by the students of Fine Arts College, it is conceived to present various aspects of Kerala culture, from tribal medicines and the coir industry to folk art forms.

Registration for the congress has crossed 4,000. Mr. Rajamohan said apart from delegates from across the country, nearly 100 foreign guests are also expected.

The university has provided free registration to nearly 1,000 students from different universities in the State, including 500 students from the Karyavattom campus.

State Bank of Travancore will open an ATM counter on the campus.

“We are following all safety and security precautions for construction and organisation activities related to the ISC. By the end of the ISC, there will be a visible change in the campus landscape with a total uplift of the campus. We are hoping that these modifications will also help us during the NAAC inspection visit later in 2010,” Mr. Rajamohan said.