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Byculla zoo entry fee hike: Open spaces must be free for all, says former Mumbai civic chief

cities Updated: May 22, 2017 09:37 IST

Mumbai, India - August 21, 2016: People gather together to watch Mother Hippopotamus Shilpa with her newly born Hippopotamus cub at Jijamata Udyaan, Byculla in Mumbai, India, on Sunday, August 21, 2016. (Photo by Pratik Chorge/ Hindustan Times)(Pratik Chorge/HT PHOTO)

Before the proposal to increase the entry fee of Byculla zoo could be tabled before the standing committee, a former municipal commissioner and civic activists have expressed their opposition. The proposal, passed by the market and garden committee, will be tabled before the standing committee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday.

Former civic chief DM Sukhtankar said the BMC must be looking at ways to bring more people to the large open space, when they should pay attention to the opposite. “The botanical gardens are one of the largest open spaces in the city which must be free for all. There is no rationale behind the sudden hike and we don’t even know what is the revenue expected from this,” Sukhtankar said on Tuesday.

Under the proposed fee structure, children between three to twelve years of age will be charged Rs25 each to enter the zoo. This amount is Rs 2 at present. Adults will have to pay Rs100 each, up from Rs 5 — a 20-fold hike. The authorities will also increase monthly morning walk charges for citizens at the zoo — from Rs 30 to Rs150.

Nayana Kathpalia from NAGAR, an NGO fighting to save open spaces in the city, said, “In a crowded city like Mumbai, people need some space to step out. The BMC has enough money to maintain and create more open spaces. They need not burden the tax payers more.”

Hutokshi Rustomfram, trustee of the Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation, said the trust will keep fighting against the proposed hike. “The BMC’s rationale of a sudden increase in the entry fee because of an increase in the number of people visiting the zoo is absurd. The gardens have always seen a huge number of visitors. By increasing the fee, the BMC is charging people for breathing some fresh air.”

The foundation had also initiated an online petition against the hike. Recently, the BJP’s Mumbai unit chief Ashish Shelar also shot off a letter to the municipal commissioner opposing the move.

First Published: May 22, 2017 09:31 IST