The makeover work on a section of the Byculla zoo has kicked off and so has the controversy.
The Save Rani Baug Committee (SRBC) has alleged that construction at the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyaan, Byculla Zoo has begun even though the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) is yet to issue a no-objection certificate.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has reportedly started work on the animal hospital and the administrative building as part of the redevelopment plan with a lot of rubble, debris and iron rods being dumped in the garden area.
“The matter is still pending with the MHCC and until it sends an NOC, the BMC cannot begin work on the new zoo,” said Renee Vyas of the SRBC.
“Some work is being carried out behind the snakes’ enclosure and at the other end of the zoo, there’s also some construction work on the administrative building,” she added.
In response to an RTI, the committee got hold of a letter by the MHCC addressed to Additional Municipal Commissioner R.A. Rajeev dated January 15 saying that the committee has learnt that work in the administrative building and the hospital had begun without the NOC.
“We also asked the administration to submit a detailed plan with the hospital and the administrative building as a part of it. If the work has commenced they should immediately discontinue it,” said a member of the MHCC reading out the contents of the letter.
She also said that while the civic body has promised no trees will be harmed, the iron rods and the rubble dumped in the garden will result in uprooting and killing of the trees.
The Rs 430-crore proposal, will house 25 new species of animals within its 53-acre premises. Meanwhile, the chairman of the MHCC Dinesh Afzulpurkar said, “We have not yet given the NoC to the BMC, as the plan hasn’t been cleared by us.” He added that neither he nor the MHCC was aware of any work being carried out at this point. “The revamping of the zoo cannot begin until an NOC is issued by the MHCC,” said Afzulpurkar.
When contacted, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Gardens) Chandrashekhar Rokde said that work of the hospital and the administrative building has commenced.