The rupee-euro exchange rate, which was around 70 when the pact was signed with a German firm, now hovers around 80, escalating costs.

Unpredictable financial climate is holding hostage the grand renovation plans for the Priyadarshini Planetarium here. The Kerala State Science and Technology Museum (KSSTM) was on the verge of procuring state-of-the-art projectors and equipment for the planetarium when the fluctuating rupee played spoilsport.

The rupee-euro exchange rate began its erratic behaviour in May-end. It is August, there is still no sign of improvement, and the KSSTM is feeling the pinch. The government agency called a global tender for the upgrade project in September 2012 and by mid-January, German company, Carl Zeiss, was chosen from among firms from Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

A host of procedures followed — from audit clearance, scrutiny, and final approval to government sanction. When sanction was first sought, the rate of the rupee was 70 against a euro. The present rate hovers around Rs.80 (81.17 on Sunday evening). The extra Rs.10 adds up to a massive difference. The proposal by Carl Zeiss places the cost of the planetarium at 1,330,500 euros which, at the time of agreement, equalled Rs.9.31 crore, which was approved by the government. If the value falls by even a rupee, Rs.13 lakh is added to the cost of the project.

“With the rates fluctuating thus, we are forced to forward the matter to the executive body of the meeting and request more money for this programme,” said a senior official of the KSSTM. At the current rate of Rs.81 for one euro, a total of Rs.10.7 crore is being demanded for the planetarium — a surplus of more than Rs.1 crore.

Officials are also considering whether the equipment could be paid for in parts(installation should take around nine months and will be carried out by experts from Carl Zeiss itself). This could hive off up to Rs.65 lakh from the initial payment. They might also opt for a lesser model, minus the range of features of the one now sought. These issues will be put forward to the executive body.