The original makeover plan for the Byculla zoo had theme gardens of various continents, a 3D theatre and night safari, among other things.
Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh quoted a letter sent to the additional municipal commissioner by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) on August 23, 2010. “The zoo proposes to house too many species in a relatively small area. Housing 627 animals from 84 species is a tall order. It is advised to relocate the zoo on a larger area, preferably on more than 50 hectares outside the city.”
Ramesh also asked Chavan to direct the addl civic commissioner to revise the master plan for further scrutiny and approval of the CZA. “The plan should be revised so that existing animal enclosures are modified to improve their living conditions without encroaching upon the botanical garden and its heritage layout preserved for future generations,” he said.
He also pointed out that the CZA had cautioned that the plan would be detrimental to animal health and well-being. “Therefore the development exercise appears to be devoid of any merit,” Ramesh said.
The “Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Action Committee” which has been working towards saving the garden for the past four years met Ramesh in Delhi recently. “We are glad he has asked the chief minister to intervene. It is now up to the municipal commissioner to heed his advice,” said Hutokshi Rustomfram, a founder member of the committee.
The project is already in trouble with municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar slashing its budget to Rs 100 crore.