Experiment to create scientific temper among people comes a cropper
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, June 12: The Vigyan Mandir experiment was one of the earliest mass scientific literacy efforts made by the Central government. Vigyan Mandirs - temples of knowledge - were to be established in every block or at least in every district, to create scientific temper among the people. It was hailed as the first ever institutiol effort for "popularising scientific and technical knowledge in rural areas".
However, due to neglect of successive governments, the two Vigyan Mandirs set up in Assam have long been at death's door.
The two Vigyan Mandirs in the State were established in 1957, one at Dimoria and the other at Hailakandi.
They were initially under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The centres were taken over by the Education department in 1962, which rang the death knell for them.
There were four Assam-type buildings at the Vigyan Mandir campus at Dimoria, one office and three quarters. One of the quarters is in ruins. The other three are also in rickety condition.
The post of the Vigyan Mandir officer - in charge of the centre - is lying vacant since 1990. The centre at Dimoria is manned by a lab attendant and a peon-cum-watchman. The post of assistant Vigyan Mandir officer is also vacant.
Anta Kumar Neog, who retired as assistant officer of the centre in 2013, said no renovation work was undertaken at the centre in the last two decades.
"I feel ashamed when the public criticized the idleness of the Vigyan Mandir. Earlier, the centre was bustling with activities. Children and young people used to visit the centre. There was a museum, a library and a laboratory. We used to show films to the visitors through a 16mm projector. We used to hold lectures, competitions and demonstrations. Everything is lying unused since years. Most of the equipments have been damaged beyond repair," Neog rued.
The power supply to the centre was cut-off long back as it was uble to pay the bills. The 16 horsepower generator of the centre was never operated.
Neog said several reminders were sent to the Education department, but the State government had turned its back.
"We tried a lot to revive the centre, but no help was coming from the government," he said.
Neog says the centres should be handed over to the Science & Technology department, for only then can their modernization be possible.