Maharashtra Lokayukta ML Tahilyani is likely to visit Byculla zoo next week to check the penguin enclosures. The Lokayukta also summoned civic officials on Friday following a petition filed by Congress corporator Pravin Chheda alleging irregularities and corruption in the procurement of the penguins at the zoo.
Officials from Lokayukta’s office said civic officials submitted a report on the case and the next hearing is scheduled on November 15.
In July, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had procured 8 Humboldt Penguins from Korea. On October 23, a one-and-a-half-year-old Penguin named Dory died which brought BMC's poor maintenance of the zoo and its much-delayed revamp into limelight.
In his letter to the Lokayukta, Chheda requested a detailed report on the procurement of penguins and the construction of the enclosures at Byculla zoo. He has also said the Lokayukta should direct the municipal commissioner for an independent inquiry in the project and register an FIR against the contractor.
The contractor, Highway Construction Company, forfeited Rs 1.4 crore (the deposit amount) for not fulfilling a crucial tender clause — entering into a joint venture for completing the project. The contractor was to enter into a joint venture with US-based SIVAT Services, specialising in aquatic systems. Chheda said the Lokayukta has asked authorities to fix responsibility on officials looking at the tender clauses.
Dr Sanjay Tripathi, director, Byculla zoo, said, "We submitted the required documents. The next hearing is on November 15."
Meanwhile, on Friday, Congress shot off another letter to municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta demanding a weekly health report of the seven penguins and asked for it to be submitted to the standing committee meeting every week. Chheda said, "After the penguin's death, there have been a lot of media reports on the status of the other penguins. It is important that the standing committee gets a health report in every meeting from now."