A 50-seater planetarium and a sub-regional science centre will soon come up in Puducherry, at the site of an energy park under construction at Lawspet.

Special Secretary to the Government G. Theva Neethi Dhas said the planetarium will be constructed at a cost of Rs.80 lakh, and funded completely by the Government of Puducherry, while the construction of the science centre will be undertaken at a cost of Rs.2.6 crore, with the government and the Union Ministry of Culture each funding 50 per cent. Construction will be taken up by the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM).

The science centre would feature various thematic exhibits from all branches of science and seminars and lectures by prominent science personalities, he added.

The proposal, which was approved by the Puducherry Council for Science and Technology (PCS&T) during its fourth annual meeting held recently, is awaiting approval from the Union Ministry of Culture. Home Minister E. Valsaraj, who also holds the science and technology portfolio and functions as the Chairman of the PCS&T, insisted at the meeting that the planetarium be completed within a year of its approval, and the construction of the science centre be taken up thereafter.

At the meeting, the council also approved the scheme for holding an annual science fair in the Union Territory, inviting exhibits from colleges, universities and other educational institutions.

Members of the council also decided to increase the financial assistance it provides to organisers of national and international conferences or seminars to Rs.50,000 and Rs.1,00,000 respectively. Travel grants for academicians and scientists for participation in international conferences and workshops to present innovative findings were also increased from Rs.15,000 to Rs.30,000.