Activists threaten to move court against Byculla zoo entry fee hike

Allege that move by civic body is to keep the underprivileged out of Rani Bagh

The current entry fee is Rs 5. File pic
The current entry fee is Rs 5. File pic

After several failed attempts to convince the chief minister and BMC to not proceed with the proposal of a 20-fold hike in entry fee to the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, popularly known as Rani Bagh, the Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation has threatened to take the issue to court.

On Tuesday evening, at a press conference, the foundation, along with an NGO, Nagar, alleged that BMC's proposal to hike the entry fee from Rs 5 to Rs 100 was an attempt to keep the underprivileged out of the garden. They said they would move court if the proposal was passed in the standing committee.

"The BMC is giving lame excuses for the hike. We had submitted our protest letter to the CM and the standing committee on April 11, but have not received any response till date. We are waiting for the standing committee decision and will take whatever action is necessary to stop the hike. If needed, we will file a petition in court against the proposal," said Hutokshi Rustomfram, trustee of the foundation.

On May 19, the hike will be proposed in the standing committee for approval and, if passed, will be moved to the civic house for a final nod. However, the proposal is likely to be held up as the BJP is already opposed to the hike. Last week, BJP president Ashish Shelar sent a letter to the civic chief, opposing the plan.

"The three main reasons to hike the entry fee is because we need funds to maintain the penguin exhibit, and for phase 1 of the zoo and garden makeover, which is almost complete. The fee hike has been proposed after 22 years. The final decision on the hike remains with the standing committee," said Sanjay Tripathi, director, VJB Udyan.

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