Mumbai’s green lung — Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) — is all set to get a makeover.
If the Maharashtra forest department’s plan takes off, in the next three years the 103-sq-km park will boast of various new features such as a leopard safari, nature trails, a butterfly park and a taxidermy gallery. Tourists will be able to enjoy better infrastructure, including canopies, machans and walkways.
First, the state plans to ban cars inside the park to reduce pollution. Only battery operated cars will be introduced to ferry visitors. The national park’s transformation is part of a larger plan, which includes transforming the Tadoba Tiger Reserve and Gorewada Zoo in Vidarbha, with a joint budgetary allocation of Rs100 crore.
The department has prepared the documents to invite a Request For Proposal (RFP) for the appointment of a consultant for the national park project.
While the RFP is expected to be issued next week, it will take seven months to rope in a consultant.
“This is the proposal prepared by the department with the help of the office of the chief conservator of forest at the SGNP. The proposal is open-ended and may be revised or fine-tuned based on the suggestions made after a consultant is appointed,” said an official from the forest department, on the condition of anonymity.
Some of the important features include the development of a leopard safari in addition to the existing lion and tiger safaris at the park. It has also proposed nature interpretation centres at Manpada, Yeoor and Borivli, to give tourists and nature lovers an orientation about the biodiversity of the area and create awareness about the environment. The orientation will be clubbed with nature trails.
A cat orientation centre has also been proposed, which will house wild cats rescued from other sanctuaries and a rescue centre for animals sent for rehabilitation from the rest of the state. The taxidermy gallery at the park will showcase the wide variety of birds and animals found at the park.
Once the contract is awarded the plan will be finalised in seven months and the consultant will be given a period of two years to execute the makeover.
Vikas Kharge, secretary, revenue and forest department said, “The makeover plan was announced by finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar in his budget speech in March. The estimated cost of the project will be ascertained only after it has been finalised.” He said apart from the makeover plan, the department has been introducing various innovative efforts regularly at the SGNP as part of the continuous process of upgradation of the SGNP.