Cancel Byculla zoo licence, says PIL; high court asks BMC to respond
The Bombay high court (HC) on Monday directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to file an affidavit in reply to a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking the cancellation of Byculla zoo’s licence, on the grounds that “animals are kept in noisy and unnatural surroundings.” Animal lover Sonal Motla, in her PIL, claimed the revamp work undertaken by the zoo since 2013 has converted the premises into a “construction site”, hurting the animals.
The 56-year-old JVPD resident told the court that in its present condition, Byculla Zoo does not comply with statutory requirements, and allowing animals to live there or allowing new ones to be brought in would be like “inflicting unnecessary pain on them”. Citing the “unusually high number” of animal deaths at the zoo in the past few years, Motla also urged the HC to direct the Central Zoo Authority to examine the premises and cancel its licence. She sought that the animals of Byculla zoo be transferred to some other zoo.
Motla contended that BMC has undertaken a “massive revamp” of the zoo in three phases. The first phase began in 2013 and has been completed. In the second phase, 17 animal enclosures are being built in two lots, at an estimated cost of Rs120 crore. For this, five to six JCB machines are being operated round the clock, with drilling, piling and cementing at number of places on the premises. This is constraining animals in “noisy and unnatural surroundings”, she submitted.
According to her petition, from 2012 to 2014, of the 541 animals in the zoo, 40 died. In 2014-15, of 508 animals, 72 died, and in the next three years, it recorded 70, 77 and 64 animal deaths respectively.