The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee’s (MHCC) indecisiveness over permission for the Byculla zoo revamp has pushed its cost estimate up by 40%, zoo authorities said.
The civic body had planned to modernise the zoo at a cost of Rs 430 crore in 2008, which was revised to Rs 480 crore in 2009. Today, the cost has gone up to Rs 150 crore.
Of course, the additional cost will have to be borne by the taxpayer. The civic body had submitted the zoo revamp plan to the MHCC for its no-objection certificate in 2008 and is still awaiting clearance.
“We cannot begin work until the MHCC gives us permission,” said a civic official on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
MHCC, however, denied that the delay was their fault.
“The proposal is not pending with us. The zoo has a botanical garden and the civic body should first ensure that its character is preserved. We have no objection to the zoo’s modernisation,” said Dinesh Afzalpurkar, chairman of MHCC.
“We have appointed two expert committees to study the botanical garden and rare tree-plant species and what impact modernisation would have on the garden. We also sent a detailed letter to the BMC asking for clarifications,” Afzalpurkar added.
The 53-acre compound of the Byculla zoo has 3,213 trees belonging to 285 species.
“We have sent our reply to the MHCC,” said Anil Anjankar, director, Byculla zoo.
Currently the civic body has started phase I of the project, of the total four phases, which includes construction of an administrative building.