Science conventions to get more space

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on January 24, 2012

The Convention Centre Complex facilities of Science City

The convention centre of Science City, Kolkata, which is one of the most sought after destination for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) in the city, is likely to get a facelift soon. Promoted by the National Council of Science Museums (the apex body of science museums and centres in India) in 1996, Science City, Kolkata, is host to several important medical conferences, scientific workshops, cultural programmes and workshops and corporate AGMs in the eastern region of the country.

“We have not publicised our convention centre too much as we are a well known name in this part of the country. Between our grand theatre, mini auditorium and seminar halls we have a seating capacity of about 2,800 and occupancy of about 225 days a year. We wish to scale this up further by expanding our existing facilities,” Mr A D Choudhury, director, Science City, told Business Line.

Close to 25-30 per cent of the programmes held at the convention centre are scientific conferences, about 30 per cent are cultural programmes while the rest are for various other purposes like corporate AGMs etc, he said.

With a view to further expand its convention centre facility, Science City, Kolkata, plans to develop a permanent structure in its exhibition ground, set up a food court and construct a multilevel underground parking space.

“We are exploring the possibility of going in for a public-private partnership to expand the convention centre facility which is one of the most sought after destination for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) in the city,” Mr Choudhury said.

Science City has already put out an advertisement for engaging transaction advisors for the proposed expansion plan. “Once selected, the transaction advisors will give their recommendations in the next seven-to-eight months. It will then take another 12-18 months for work on the project to commence,” Mr Choudhury said.

Science City currently builds temporary halls in the exhibition ground which is spread over an area of 25,000 “The occupancy is close to 150 days a year. We are looking at having a permanent set up there by way of exhibition halls and food court. We are also planning to construct a multilevel underground parking space,” Mr Choudhury said. The proposed expansion could entail an investment of about Rs 200 crore.

The recommendations proposed by the transaction advisors will be sent to the government for requisite approvals. “Once we receive the necessary approvals then the next stage will be identifying a private partner,” he said.

Science City, Kolkata, consists of two facilities, the “science centre” and the “convention centre”. The science centre complex comprises space odyssey, dynamotion, evolution theme park, maritime centre and a science park.

The convention centre complex comprises the grand theatre (2,232 seating capacity), one mini auditorium (392 seating capacity) and a seminar hall building with 11 halls ranging from 15 to 100 seating capacity, indoor (270sq.m.) and open air exhibition ground (20000 sq. m). The auditoria’s and the seminar halls are fully air-conditioned. The main focus for convention centre is on medical conference, scientific workshops, cultural programmes and workshops and corporate AGMs, he said.

Revenues from the convention centre currently account for about 30 per cent of Science City’s total revenues, while the rest 70 per cent comes from the science centre. “With the proposed expansion we hope the share of convention centre to total revenues to increase to about 50 per cent. Our core area of focus is the science centre. So whatever additional revenues we can garner from the convention centre will be invested in the upgradation and maintenance of the science centre,” he said.

Parking Facility

Science City has a parking facility for about 1,000 vehicles at present. The construction of a multilevel underground parking space will lead to a three fold rise in the capacity of the parking lot. “We are planning to have multilevel underground parking in both the existing parking area and at the site of the exhibition ground. This will increase our parking capacity two-to-three fold,” Mr Choudhury said.

Science Centre

Science City, Kolkata, is the largest science centre in the sub-continent. “There are 27 science centres under the National Council of Science Museums. We are the biggest of them all both in terms of area and footfalls,” he added.

Science City, Kolkata, was built in 1996 with an initial grant of Rs 50 crore from the Ministry of Culture. The upgradation of the science centre is also underway. “The Ministry of Culture has given us a one time grant of Rs 20 crore for the upgradation of science centre. We are constructing a science exploration hall spread over 5,000 sq mt. The exploration hall will have 3D models on evolution of life, a panoramic presentation of human evolution and a section on Indian science and technology heritage,” he said.

The upgradation work, which commenced in September 2010, is expected to be complete by the end of this year. The hall would be operational by December 2013.

Published on January 24, 2012

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