CHENNAI: At Periyar Science and Technology Centre, Kotturpuram, one can see models of locomotive trains and GSLVs standing on garbage and poorly-maintained bushes. A sign close to the models reads — ‘The exhibits are to be enjoyed’. Amid these is a television that plays one video repeatedly.
Not many spare a second glance at the TV to check what is being played. A few yards away, one can see a three-storeyed hall that holds a variety of exhibits from all branches of science — fun mirrors gallery to ocean technology — all gathering dust. The glass within which the models rest are broken, prototypes of submarines and generators are surrounded by cobwebs, giving the place a haunted feel.
Despite the holiday season, there are hardly any students in the Science Centre. The 3D science centre and fun mirrors gallery, which are visually appealing, are no exceptions.
Iyamperumal P, executive director of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC), says that the crowd is not too sparse, and that the visitors are seasonal and mostly tourists. He adds that they issue circulars to schools, which bring their students as part of field trip.
The centre sees around 5 lakh school and college-going children who visit as part of the events organised at the venue, he says.
Not all exhibits, which have been painstakingly set up, are visited. Besides the two halls, there are dedicated spaces for exhibits on transport, oceanography, physics and other disciplines in science. “We have collaborated with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, National Institute of Ocean Technology and other departments from the Government of India that deal with science and technology. There are no frequent visitors, but we cannot compel students to visit all places,” says Iyamperumal.
While the number of visitors may not be all that low, considering that the centre is the only place in the city to offer a wide range of facilities for students, one cannot say that the science centre’s facilities are well-maintained or completely utilised.