You may soon have to pay 20 times more to visit Veermata Jijabhai Bhosale Udyan, also known as Byculla zoo. The proposal to increase the entry fee from Rs5 to Rs100 likely to be approved by the market and garden committee on Monday.
Political parties in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), barring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), have already given their nod to the proposal last month. The move comes after members of Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation, along with former civic chiefs Sharad Kale and DM Sukhtankar, met BMC chief Ajoy Mehta last month and asked him not to increase the entry fee for the botanical garden — one of the largest open spaces in the city.
The proposal, if approved by the markets and garden committee will be tabled before the standing committee, where Shiv Sena, which holds majority, has supported the hike. From the standing committee, the proposal will make its way to the 227-member general body meeting for the final approval.
Civic officials said that the large crowd that the zoo’s new seven Humboldt penguins had attracted for almost a month, was a first for the authorities and also the reason for the hike.
Under the proposed fee structure, children between three to twelve years of age will be charged Rs25 each to enter the zoo. This amount is Rs 2 at present. Adults will have to pay Rs100 each, up from Rs 5 — a 20-fold hike. However, students of municipal schools and senior citizens will be allowed inside the zoo free of cost.
Further, to attract more people to the zoo, the civic body has decided to charge a family of four — two adults and two children below the age of 12 — Rs100. For a third child, the family will be charged an extra Rs25. The authorities will also increase monthly morning walk charges for citizens at the zoo — from Rs30 to Rs150. This is the first time in nearly two decades that the entry fee for the zoo will be increased.
Petition gets 735 signatures
In online petition against the proposed hike in entry fee to Byculla zoo received 735 signatures in the past 10 days.
The petition was launched by Save Rani Baug Botanical Garden Foundation on April 27.
Hutokshi Rustomfram, a trustee of the foundation, told HT that the petition will be handed over to the civic chief on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the foundation was vindicated as the planning committee formed to look into suggestions and objections to the DP 2034 classified Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, or Byculla zoo, as a ‘botanical garden, garden and zoo’.
“The new status signifies our labour of over ten years to accord recognition and protection to the botanical garden,” Rustomfram said.
(With inputs from Neha Seth)