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Mumbai: BMC acquires disputed land near Byculla zoo

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Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), on Friday, finally acquired the seven acres of disputed land which had been leased to Mafatlal Mills. After the lease expired in 2012, BMC wanted the land back, but Mafatlal Mills submitted a plea in Bombay High Court (HC), claiming rights on the land. However, the court rejected the plea on August 16 and passed orders in BMC’s favour.

The disputed land was finally acquired by the Byculla zoo authorities on Friday, which means the 157-year-old zoo, popularly known as Rani Baug, can now proceed with its expansion plan, stated Dr Sanjay Tripathi, in-charge and veterinary doctor of Byculla zoo.  He further said the master plan for the expansion of the zoo will be sent to the Central Zoo Authority, New Delhi, and the minister for environment and forests, Government of India, for final approval. Once the approvals are sanctioned, work will commence. “The plan includes bringing different species of animals and birds over here, for the benefit of visitors. At present, there are no such animals or birds, except for the Humboldt penguins, which are a big draw, “Tripathi said.

In the expansion plan, zoo authorities plan to bring in giraffes, zebras, cheetas, hippopotamus, lemurs, ostriches from the African savannah, kangaroos, wallabies, emus, and black swans from Australia, jaguars, tapirs, hoolocks and gibbons from South Africa and chimpanzees, rhesus and bonnet macaques. There are also plans to construct a flamingo island in the zoo. In August, the corporation had also approved a Rs 59 crore contract to construct enclosures for 10 new arrivals to the zoo, including jackals, hyenas, leopards, wolves, otters, sloth bears and snakes.  Work on the construction of two aviaries and enclosures for tigers, lions, sambar, barking deer, Nilgai swamp deer are also in progress.