The state-appointed heritage committee has suggested several changes to the makeover plan for Veer Jijamata Udyan, popularly known as Byculla zoo.
The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee wrote to the municipal commissioner on Wednesday about its objections.
The committee fears that the zoo’s green cover will be hampered during the makeover. It also feels there is no need to make changes in the enclosures of animals.
“We are not in a position to accept the project in its current form. We have written to the administration asking for a new layout with a few recommendations,” said Dinesh Afzulpurkar, the chairman of the committee. Afzulpurkar added that the plan was good on paper but may not work practically.
Professor Asad Rehmani, director, Bombay Natural History Society has also expressed his views especially on the type of enclosures and habitat proposed for certain animals.
The letter, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times, says the number of water bodies in the master plan, even if shallow in nature, could damage and even kill the root systems of full grown trees.
“We are not against the zoo plan. It’s just that all these elements should been seen as a whole and not in isolation,” said a heritage committee member, requesting anonymity.
“We have received the letter from the committee and are formulating our reply,” said A. Anjankar, the zoo’s director.
The plan was prepared by Thailand-based HKS Designers and Consultancy in 2007. It has been with the heritage committee for more than a year because it had asked the administration for several clarifications. Unsatisfied with the replies, the committee has rejected the proposal.
The approval of the heritage committee is necessary because the zoo houses listed structures like the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, the clock tower, the Arch and a few statues, and construction around them will need the committee’s permission.
The souvenir shop proposed in the plan, for example, is touching the Elephanta statute and needs to be relocated, the committee has said.
The letter also mentions that enough space needs to be left around the museum for expansion.
It has also expressed concerns over entry fees to be levied after the makeover, and has recommended that a system be set up to manage the crowd.
To be built in four phases, the revamped zoo will have 98 newer species of animals including endangered species like the cheetah and orangutans. Sharing living space with them will be local leopards, lions and Asian elephants.