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KARACHI, Sept 12: Speakers at a demonstration by students on Sunday demanded the construction of a new planetarium before dismantling and relocating the present one.

They were speaking at a demonstration organized by a non-governmental organization, AMASTROPAK, whose members include people having interest in astrology, the universe and scientific education. A large number of young students were among the participants of the demonstration.

The demonstration was organized to protest against the proposed relocation of the planetarium. Former principal, Government College for Women Dr Aquila Islam, Principal, Waris Ali Shah School, Nazimabad, Sophia Hasnain and others spoke at the demonstration.

They said the planetarium at present was located at a well-connected place and was easily accessible from all parts of the city in public transport. While its new proposed location at the University of Karachi, having limited accessibility through public transport, would be out-of-the-way for many visitors.

The speakers emphasised the need for more planetariums and science learning centres in the city to promote scientific learning among the younger generation. They said that leave alone public schools, even the elite and expensive ones could not afford to build planetariums, and it was important and necessary that the city owned some for its young children.

They stressed that if, however, the shifting was very necessary then first a new planetarium be constructed, and then equipment be shifted to its new location. They demanded that the planetarium equipment should not be dismantled before the new building was completely constructed.

Referring to one of the reasons put forward by the PIA management - which had constructed the planetarium - regarding the planetarium running in loss, the speakers said that no new programmes had been obtained since the planetarium started operation in the early 1980s.

They suggested that new programmes be obtained, which would create interest among people in general and youngsters in particular. This, they said, could bring the planetarium out of loss and make it financially viable. They suggested that a small space museum could also be established along the planetarium.

They expressed surprise over the fact that when a commercial organization like the PIA claimed that it could no more bear the loss, then how could the KU, which was always short of funds and which would not be able to attract a large number of visitors, operate the planetarium.

Children, also part of the demonstration, chanted slogans of "Planetarium should be within our reach", and "We need planetarium for knowledge", etc, against the proposed shifting of the planetarium. They were carrying placards with slogans in support of their demands inscribed on them.