Thiruvananthapuram

Memorial to Vikram Sarabhai coming up

Vikram A. Sarabhai

Vikram A. Sarabhai  

To be set up on 1.75-acre plot near Kowdiar Palace grounds in the city

If things pan out, Vikram A. Sarabhai would be honoured by the institution that he helped build from scratch - the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) - with a memorial at Kowdiar in the capital city.

The location, a 1.75 acre plot of land close to the Kowdiar Palace grounds, was originally demarcated for the ‘Kalam Knowledge Centre and Space Museum,' a ₹ 100 crore project meant as a tribute to another ISRO heavyweight - the scientist and former President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.

But heritage-zone concerns had forced ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) to relocate this mega project to Pallipuram in the city outskirts. A heritage panel had rejected the design for the five-storey structure last year citing Kowdiar’s status as a heritage zone. Nonetheless, the VSSC had not relinquished the land transferred to it by the Kerala Government.

2019 marks the birth centenary year of Dr. Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space programme. While the design for the memorial to him is yet to be finalised, it is understood that the building would be a single-storeyed one with basement space conforming to the construction norms set down by the heritage committee.

A panel of architects has submitted designs for the new project which will house memorabilia - and among other facilities - feature a library, classrooms and an auditorium, sources said. Once ISRO selects the design, it has to be approved by the heritage panel as well.

Nod from State

A formal approval is also required from the State Government as the land was originally transferred for the ‘Kalam Knowledge Centre and Space Museum,’ M. Chandradathan, scientific advisor to the Chief Minister and former director, VSSC, said when contacted.

Some of the most enduring images of Dr. Sarabhai's association with Thiruvananthapuram also mark the formative years of the Indian space programme and the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS). Dr. Sarabhai also breathed his last in Thiruvananthapuram; at Kovalam on December 30, 1971.

Kalam space museum

On another front, preparatory work for establishing the the ‘Kalam Knowledge Centre and Space Museum’ at Pallipuram is moving at a fast pace. An inspection of the land was carried out two weeks ago. The design approved by ISRO featured a five-storey structure with a copper-cladding envelope. The building alone is expected to cost ₹60 crore. According to VSSC officials, the entire project would cost approximately ₹100 crore.

The centre is designed to be as a memorial to Dr. Kalam's long association with Thiruvananthapuram during the initial days of the Indian space programme at Thumba.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 12:53:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/memorial-to-sarabhai-coming-up/article30314543.ece

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