Carl Zeiss on track for revamping Priyadarshini Planetarium

For almost a year, the fluctuating euro threatened to derail a dream project envisaged for the city.

In January this year, when the euro fetched Rs.70, the Kerala State Science and Technology Museum (KSSTM) had finalised the German company Carl Zeiss for the modernisation of the Priyadarshini Planetarium here.

In the months that followed, the value of the euro rose alarmingly, even crossing Rs.90, spelling doom for transnational purchases such as this one.

Months of deliberation and near-withdrawals later, there is confirmation. In fact, the pieces are literally coming together now, in Germany, ever since the KSSTM issued the letter of credit to HDFC Bank on November 6. This letter of credit or documentary credit validates the deal with the bank bearing the responsibility to pay the supplier the value of the goods shipped as long as the documents and the stipulated terms are complied with.

Payment

It was possible for the KSSTM to go ahead with the payment because they did not have to deposit the entire amount of 13 million euros in one go. Payment has been split into transactions after discussions with officials of Carl Zeiss in October – 10 months since the contract was signed.

Carl Zeiss had first requested that the three LCs be issued simultaneously – one bearing 60 per cent of the amount to be released after completion of works there; one marked for 30 per cent to be released after shipping; and the third for 10 per cent which they could avail of only after the guarantee period of two years since installation.

With the transactions now being carried out one after the other, the KSSTM has earned some breathing space with Rs.6.7 crore being utilised from the this year’s budget of the agency, instead of over Rs.11 crore (total). The cost was initially pegged at Rs.9.74 crore. The remaining will be paid utilising next year’s budget, KSSTM Director Arul Jerald Prakash said.

Deadline

The deadline is October 6, 2014 – 11 months since the first LC is issued.

Mr. Prakash said there was a good chance that Carl Zeiss would complete the work much ahead of this date, and the people of the city would be able to enjoy the state-of-the-art features of the ‘Starmaster Hybrid’ planetarium as soon as next Onam. A much-larger 17-metre diameter dome, this version would provide an enhanced experience through the company’s optical-mechanical projector. Their website describes this model as one equipped with LED illumination and a ‘Spacegate Nova’ system that consists of nine synchronised video projectors for greater accuracy.

Aside from the astronomy-inclined aspects, the IMAX screening capabilities and a ‘Kerala Panoramic 2D’ feature showcasing scenic locations in the State are the other components of the agreement.