Forest department signs MoU to give land for Byculla zoo extension in Mumbai
The state forest department and the civic body signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Wednesday for the handing over of around 100 acres of land at Aarey Colony in Goregaon to extend the Veermata Jijabai Bhosle Udyan (Byculla zoo).
The MoU was signed in the presence of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and state forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar at the corporation’s headquarters in Fort. The civic body will be given the land on a 99-year lease period at a rent of Rs 1 each year.
After the extension, the civic body plans to introduce state-of-the-art facilities at par to the zoos located abroad, the expenditure for which, would be around Rs 500 crore. It would have features like jungle safari, conservation breeding and display of various animals.
The plan has witnessed stiff opposition from activists and Aarey residents. On Wednesday, activists from the Aarey Conservation Group held a protest outside the BMC headquarters. The group said they have been demanding for an ecological park or a sanctuary on Aarey Colony land instead of a zoo. Meanwhile, the residents of the tribal hamlets close to the proposed site in Aarey, said that all the 27 padas would stage a protest on Saturday. Prakash Bhoir, leader of a hamlet, said, “We have been staying here for decades now. The government signed the agreement without consulting us.”