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Monday, Dec 09, 2019

BMC drops monkey, chimpanzee enclosure plans citing budget cuts

mumbai Updated: Nov 22, 2019 00:30 IST
Eeshanpriya M S
Eeshanpriya M S

As the cost of a 1.7-acre plot, part of the proposed 12-acre expansion plan of Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, commonly known as Byculla zoo, escalated in March this year, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided against its purchase, citing it is not affordable. The civic body also deleted the chimpanzee and monkey enclosures from its original expansion plan for the zoo.

Zoo officials are now redrafting the expansion plan on the remaining 10 acres available with the BMC. The chimpanzee and monkey enclosures will be planned at the Aarey zoo, whenever it is constructed.

Al Jarhad, assistant municipal commissioner who is in charge of the project, said, “The cost of land purchase shot up, and the BMC would have to invest an additional amount of about ₹350 crore. So, we decided against it. Zoo officials are redrafting the plan for the available land parcel.”

In August 2018, BMC rolled out its zoo expansion plan after the Bombay high court ruled in its favour for an adjoining 7-acre plot belonging to Mafatlal industries. Combining this land with two other adjacent land parcels, BMC sent a proposal to the Central Zoo Authority for the expansion a year ago and received approval in February 2019.

According to the approved plan, the plot was divided into zones for 16 exotic animals from Australia, South America and African Savannah, and South East Asia, including a primate (monkey and ape) island and a flamingo island.

While the BMC was already in possession of two of the three plots, it had to purchase the 1.7-acre plot that housed a defunct ice factory. The original cost estimate of around ₹400 crore shot up to ₹700 crore after the collectorate re-evaluated the land, a civic official working on the project said.

“Now the expansion will take place over 10 acres spread over two plots. We do not need new approvals for the revised plan. We will leave a pathway to access the plot in case the civic body ever decides to purchase it,” the official said.

This comes as part of phase 3 of the zoo expansion. Once completed, it will add animals such as the dingo, cassowary, jaguar, rhinoceros, giraffe, ostrich, zebra, oryx, capybara, capuchin, cheetah, chimpanzee, black and white lemur, and ringtail lemur to the zoo.