Mumbai: Officials of Veer Jijamata Udyan, popularly known as Byculla Zoo, have written letters to various zoo across the country for swapping animals for the new seven enclosures they plan to construct. BMC plans to construct seven enclosures in phase two for tiger, lion, swamp deer, nylghai, barking deer, sambar deer and aquatic birds.
During the civic standing committee meeting on Wednesday, Rs 56 crore proposal for this purpose has been approved. However, corporators raised doubts alleging the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation are lying about these enclosures when no such animals exist in the zoo.
Bandra corporator and civic standing committee member Asif Zakeria questioned the proposal of BMC. “I thought that these animals were already available with us and the BMC was then planning to go ahead and make these enclosures. There is no clarity why only these animals the authority planned to bring,” said Zakeria.
The corporators also alleged the contract was being given to a company that had no expertise in such work like zoo maintenance. “BMC seems to be making the same mistakes, they don’t seem to learn at all. Like during the construction of the penguin enclosure, the contractor M/s Highway Construction Company claimed to have a joint venture with SIVAT services which is known to have expertise in the field of aquatic life support systems and exhibits. However, later it was found there never was any joint venture. This time we expect the BMC to be extra careful and give the contract to someone having the expertise,” said BJP party leader in BMC Manoj Kotak.
Defending the queries of the committee members, Dr Sanjay Tripathi, Director of the zoo, stated, “We are already in talks with various zoos in the country to bring their animals for these enclosures. For instance in case of tiger we are talking to the Kanpur zoo authorities, then in case of lion we are in talks with zoo in Junagadh, Gujarat. The Kanpur zoo has already agreed to give us a pair of swamp deer.”
He informed the members of the house that the construction of the enclosure prior to procurement of the animals is as per the central zoo norms which makes it mandatory to construct enclosures before the animals are kept. He informed that within one month’s time the contractor will submit the Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) signed with the expert companies.
“They need to sign MoUs with companies having expertise in various works which are required for the new enclosures like acrylic mesh, rockwork. In case of the same not being done, the EMD (earnest money deposit) of the contract to the tune of 1 per cent of the contract cost stand to be forfeited,” said Tripathi. Out of the seven enclosures four are needed to be ready in a period of 16 months excluding monsoons.
Shockingly, the BMC has given clean chit to the M/s Highway Construction Company — the contractor who constructed the penguin enclosure and was fined Rs 1. 4 crore in the past. Earlier, the contractor was found not providing necessary certificates and also did not sign any joint venture with a company having expertise in the field of aquatic life support systems and exhibits while constructing the enclosure of the Humboldt penguins.
Despite this, he has once again emerged as the front runner for construction of another 10 enclosures in the zoo for leopard, jackal, hyena, slot bear, Madras pond turtle. “He was the lowest bidder for the 10 new enclosure construction tender which was floated,” said one of the zoo official in the standing committee. After which the BJP corporator Kotak has sought details in writing regarding how was this contractor given a clean chit.