Hang lemon, chillies at penguin quarantine: MNS
The death of Dory, a one-and-a-half-year-old female Humboldt penguin at Byculla zoo last week sparked bizarre scenes at the BMC’s standing committee meeting on Wednesday, during which the Congressmumbai Updated: Oct 27, 2016 01:37 IST
The death of Dory, a one-and-a-half-year-old female Humboldt penguin at Byculla zoo last week sparked bizarre scenes at the BMC’s standing committee meeting on Wednesday, during which the Congress called for a condolence motion for the dead bird and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) demanded that a lemon and chilies be hung near the remaining penguins’ quarantine area to ward off bad luck.
The Shiv Sena and BJP turned down these demands, upon which members of opposition parties walked out of the meeting. The opposition also said the civic administration’s assurances on the health of remaining seven penguins were unsatisfactory.
The Shiv Sena responded to the criticism by saying that no parties had opposed the proposal to procure the exotic birds. The opposition then pointed to the shoddy state of the quarantine area and criticised the civic administration for housing the birds in a 250-sq-foot space, instead of the promised 1,700-sq-foot area. They also claimed that the penguin died because of stress as the eight birds had been kept in quarantine for more than a month.
Waqarunissa Ansari, a Congress corporator, said, “I wanted to move a condolence motion over the sad demise of the penguin but the chairman of the committee did not allow us to do that.”
Rais Shaikh, Samajwadi Party group leader, said, “Is the civic administration here to fulfill manifesto promises of a political party by using public money? The penguins have been kept in terrible conditions, which are harmful for the remaining penguins as well, according to international experts.”
Sandeep Deshpande, group leader of MNS, said, “Media reports have stated that a blacklisted contractor was hired to maintain the quarantine area. How can the administration allow this? The BMC failed to provide proper infrastructure and is now giving the same old answers, claiming that international standards were followed, which is a farce.”
After defending the procurement of the penguins, Shiv Sena leaders admitted that the contractor’s work was sub-par and said they have asked the administration to appoint a new one. Trushna Vishwasrao, Shiv Sena corporator and leader of the house, said, “We agree that the work done by the contractors was not up to the mark and thus the contractor will be changed. But the proposal was approved by everyone, not just us.”
Idzes Kundan, additional municipal commissioner, said, “The quarantine area was made as per international standards with all the necessary facilities. The BMC had been planned this since 2009; it was not planned in a day. The penguins were procured after taking all the required approvals. We are taking adequate measures for their well-being.”
The penguin issue came up while corporators were discussing a proposal for civil work worth Rs 4 crore at the zoo, including landscaping, food kiosks and public toilets. The proposal was approved by the Shiv Sena and BJP after the opposition walked out.