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Revamp of Byculla Zoo to spare green cover.

Mumbai The much talked-about revamp of Mumbai's Byculla Zoo is finally taking place but on a moderate scale, with emphasis on undertaking minimum construction without cutting any trees.

The new plan has already got a nod from Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner (BMC) Subodh Kumar and will be submitted to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for approval. Following objections raised by the CZA, the 150-year-old zoo and botanical garden will now remain intact with not a tree, shrub or creeper allowed to be removed without the approval of the authority

The earlier ambitious Rs4.5 billion (Dh337 million) plan of redeveloping the Veermata Jijabai Bhonsale Udyan, also popularly known as Rani Bagh or the Queen's Gardens, has now been struck down to a Rs1.5 billion redevelopment.

For Mumbai's children, and even adults, starved of any outdoor leisure activity, the makeover to be completed by 2014 will be a huge bonanza as the civic body plans to create natural settings for the animals.

Animals that have been living in old, rusty, dilapidated cages will get better homes, since "we intend to build modern and improved enclosures in keeping with the guidelines of the CZA," Anil Anjankar, Zoo Director, told Gulf News.

Animals will be placed in enclosures that mimic their wild environments, he said.

"We hope to procure a tiger as we don't have one. There will be a special enclosure with plenty of bamboo trees, waterfalls and boulders to showcase its beautiful natural habitat," he said. The upgrade will also mean better public amenities.

The only problem facing zoo authorities is how to shift four of their aging animals, two elephants, a Himalayan black bear and a rhino, which will have no space in the new zoo. "We are awaiting the CZA's reply," said Anjankar.


Meanwhile, members of the Save Rani Bagh Committee, that had stoutly opposed the earlier makeover plan of 2007 since it involved cutting down trees, are now relieved over the new plans.

"But we cannot rest assured as we plan to file a Right to Information case to know the details of the revamp," said Shubhada Nikharge, a committee member.

The place is a major attraction for thousands of families in the city as well as tourists who not only visit the zoo but also the 53-acre verdant, tree covered park in a concrete jungle.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Sep 30, 2011
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