A visit to the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan or Byculla zoo will soon be a bit more heavier on the pocket. The civic body is all set to increase the entry fee from Rs5 to Rs100. The group leaders of various political parties in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), barring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leaders who were not present during the meeting, gave their nod on Saturday.
Civic officials said that the large crowds the zoo’s new seven Humboldt penguins had brought in for almost a month were a first for authorities and also the reason for the hike.
Sources revealed that this decision had to be taken owing to the seven penguins eating less than before. A senior officer, said, “Reports revealed that penguins were not eating much. Even if the enclosure glass is soundproof, penguins can see the people outside, which can be a problem. There is a need for some discipline among viewers.”
According to officials, since the penguin enclosure opened to public viewing more than three weeks ago, the zoo has been seeing 10,000 visitors on an average every day. Sources said security had to be tightened as there was no crowd discipline and the gardens were disturbed by the large crowds. Also, to cut down on manpower in terms of security, the civic body will be installing 60-odd CCTV cameras, according to sources.
Under the new proposed fee structure, children between the ages of three to twelve will have to pay Rs25 each, up from Rs2, to enter the zoo, while adults will have to pay Rs100 each, up from Rs5 for entry. However, students of municipal schools will be allowed free entry into the zoo as will senior citizens.
Further to get more families to visit to zoo, the civic body has decided to charge a family of four — mother, father and two children below the age of 12 — only Rs100. For a third child, the family will be charged an extra Rs25 and so on. The authorities will also increase the monthly morning walk charges for citizens who come to the zoo from Rs30 to Rs 150.
Civic officials said that it is first time in the past two decades that the fees were being hiked. While the civic body was earlier mulling to have separate charges for zoo entry and penguin viewing, it has now been decided that there will be one uniform rate for entry into the zoo.
Sanjay Tripathi, director of the zoo, said, “There will be no separate fee that will be collected, as these charges will be utilised to improve and maintain the zoo itself. Anyone who comes to view penguins or to only visit the zoo will have to pay Rs100 per adult or per family.”
The proposal was supported by all the group leaders in the meeting and will now require a nod from the standing committee and general body of the corporators, before it is implemented.
Shiv Sena corporator and mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, said, “The proposal will be brought in front of the general body, after which it will be implemented.”
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