Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has spent a whopping Rs 243.65 crore in just the last 4 years (2018 to 2021) on the Veer Jijamata Bhosale Udyan and Zoo, popularly known as Rani Bagh, at Byculla. The information was received under the RTI Act from the office of zoo director.
However, the most shocking part of the information is the amount spent on the maintenance of penguins in the zoo in the last 4 years which tottaled to Rs 19.11 crores.
As per details in the information, Rs 95 crore was spent in Phase I on renovation of the Byculla Zoo. The amount was spent on entry plaza, internal pocket gardens, public amenities, CCTV installation, interpretation center, and penguin exhibit, quarantine for herbivorous, zoo hospital, and zoo kitchen complex and restoration of the Heritage structure.
Rs 62.91 crores were spent on 10 exhibits in Phase II which houses a wolf, sloth beer, cat complex, jackal, hyena, leopard, reptile house, bird aviary-1, Madras pond exhibit turtle and otter.
Also spent in tender 2 of phase II was Rs, 57.11 crores on enclosures of tiger, lion, sambar and barking deer, nilgai, four-horn antelope, swamp deer, blackbuck and bird aviary 2.
Maintenance of gardens inside the zoo has cost BMC Rs 9.52 crores in the last 4 years.
According to activist Jeetendra Ghadge of The Young Whistleblows Foundation, "This information means that penguins, tigers or a lion in the zoo are living a better life than an ordinary Mumbaikar. These enclosures of zoo animals cost around 5 to 9 crores each, that too at the cost of taxes paid by ordinary Mumbaikars. In sharp contrast, an ordinary Mumbaikar can only dream of a house in Mumbai.
"Cost escalation has been a modus operandi of the corrupt civic officials, contractors, and politicians ruling the BMC. Unfortunately for the citizens, there is absolutely no fear or limit for this cartel when it comes to looting BMC coffers."