On Wednesday, Maharashtra government and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to build a world class zoo of global standards, spreading across the lush garden of Aarey Colony in Maharashtra.
The Rs.500 crore zoo will provide all the facilities according to the guidelines set by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA). This includes a host of unseen wild animals, trails, jungle safari, nature education centre, night zoo safari, a separate breeding centre, conservation and protection centre for rare animals to attract tourists.
The CZA team have recently given the clearance to provide another tourist attraction at Aarey Milk Colony after it being inspected in 2014. The international zoo will be virtually adjacent to two tourism centre like the famous Film City and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). To further enhance the effect of the clearance, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed and exchanged between the Maharashtra Forest Department and BMC in the presence of Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray and Sudhir Mungantiuar, the state Forest Minister, at CSMT.
The MoU states that 100 acres of the 190 acres government land will be given for setting up the world class zoo. It also states that the duty of the Forest Department will be to provide technical expertise in procuring various animals and other facilities in the zoo which would showcase the rich biodiversity of the state and the country.
“In a city like Mumbai, where people are stuck in an office-to-home and home-to-office routine, the international zoo will give citizens a world-class experience, like the Singapore zoo. It will set as an example for other ‘ities’.” Shiv Sena supremo said in a statement. At the same event, Thackeray recalled his demand to develop the Mahalaxmi race course to convert it into a theme park.
As per the draft, the Aarey Colony land would be an extension of Byculla zoo. Since the existing 50 acre zoo has no space to expand after its previous expansion made in 2017, an alternative site inside the Aarey Milk Colony was explored. The Aarey colony land will be with the civic body for 99 years for Rs.1 rent.
A project management consultant will soon be appointed by the BMC to execute the master plan for the zoo from it’s own resources. However, the net revenue shall be shared between the civic body and the Forest Department. An official added, “The BMC will take help of experts for the maintenance and operation of the international zoo which will also be developed in around five years.”
Meanwhile, the members of save Aarey group staged a protest against the proposal to set up an international zoo. Around eight people tried to enter the MoU event at the CSMT, but they were not allowed.