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Mumbai’s Byculla zoo revamp stuck again

Under the Rs120-crore phase 2, BMC plans to construct a total of 17 animal enclosures, for animals such as Asiatic lion, tiger, nilgai, sambar and swamp deer.

mumbai Updated: Apr 19, 2018 10:04 IST
Eeshanpriya M S
Eeshanpriya M S
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Byculla zoo,revamp
Under the Rs120-crore phase 2, BMC plans to construct a total of 17 animal enclosures, for animals such as Asiatic lion, tiger, nilgai, sambar and swamp deer.(HT FILE)

Construction of 10 enclosures, part of phase 2 of the makeover of Veermata Jijabai Udyan at Byculla, is stuck, as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has withheld awarding contracts worth Rs65 crore for renovation of the zoo.

Reason: the bidder turned out to be Highway Construction, which was in charge of maintaining the zoo’s Humboldt penguins enclosure, when one of the penguins, Dory, died in October 2016.

Under the Rs120-crore phase 2, BMC plans to construct a total of 17 animal enclosures, for animals such as Asiatic lion, tiger, nilgai, sambar and swamp deer.

A senior civic official handling the tenders said, “Highway Construction emerged as the lowest bidder for this contract. But we have received complaints. There are reservations about giving work to them. The process is now awaiting the municipal commissioner’s approval.”

After the death of one of the eight Humboldt penguins at Byculla Zoo in 2016, BMC scrapped the contracts of phase two of the revamp that were awarded to Highway Construction at the time, citing poor quality of work. Following this, the civic body floated two sets of tenders for phase 2 of the revamp thrice, but received poor response. The latest tenders were floated in September 2017.

Last month, BMC awarded only one of the two contracts floated together in 2017, for phase two of the zoo revamp, costing about Rs55 crore, to construct seven animal enclosures. It has withheld the other part, leading to a delay of over six months.

Phase 1 of the revamp included construction of penguin enclosures, and bringing in the penguins.

The civic official said, “There is a sort of a limbo right now. The bidder was not blacklisted by BMC, so he can’t be barred from bidding for a project. In this case, he has submitted all documents. So there seems nothing wrong with his application for us to scrap it.”

Samajwadi Party corporator in BMC Rais Shaikh had written a letter to municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta requesting him to take action against Highway Construction. He said, “I want the contractor to be penalised. It doesn’t matter if they bid for more work.”

Romin Chedda from Highway Construction said, “I have fulfilled all requirements for this tender. I do not know why BMC is withholding it. I found out one of the two contracts was awarded and work has begun.”

Chedda also said his company had completed all work of phase 1 according to the requirements of the contract. “The work was not substandard,” he said.

First Published: Apr 19, 2018 10:04 IST