Two days after elected public representatives from the opposition parties in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) blamed the civic administration and authorities of the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan (Byculla Zoo) for spending exorbitantly on a penguin pen, municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal on Wednesday said the revenue of the zoo boosted after the penguins were brought.
Earlier in 2016, the BMC had procured eight Humboldt penguins (three males and five females) for Rs 2.5 crore. The penguins are being kept inside a transparent enclosure that replicates their natural habitat. In 2018, the BMC had appointed a contractor for maintaining the enclosure for 36 months that are supposed to get over by the end of September. As a result, the BMC had floated a fresh Rs 15.25 crore tender to appoint a consultant for maintaining this pen.
Issuing a statement on Wednesday, Chahal said the revenue earned by the BMC between April 2014 and March 2017 was Rs 2.1 crore, while revenue generated between April 2017 and March 2020 after getting the penguins was Rs 14.36 crore.
“It is clear that the revenue increased by Rs 12.26 crore after penguins were brought to the zoo,” said Chahal on Wednesday.
“The cost of the tender floated earlier was Rs 11.46 crore, which is lesser than the revenue generated. This clearly shows that allegations made about the BMC suffering losses are absolutely baseless,” he added.
A senior official associated with the Byculla zoo also maintained that 90 per cent of the visitors come to the zoo to see the penguins.
“The cost of the tender will cover all the expenses related to the penguins that include fodder, veterinary charges, maintenance of the air ventilation system in the enclosure and the penguin quarantine area along with other compulsory expenses,” said the official.
He also maintained that the Byculla zoo is the first and only in India that houses Humboldt penguins.
Earlier this week, the Congress and BJP had slammed the BMC administration for spending Rs 15.25 crore on the penguin pen instead of strengthening the medical infrastructure of the city.
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