Mumbai: Byculla Zoo budget down Rs 50 cr, but penguins will come marching

Budget scaled down from Rs 113 crore to Rs 63 crore following civic chief’s displeasure; 5D theatre and robotic zoo put on the backburner

Considering Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta’s displeasure over budgetary provision made for the Byculla Zoo revamp, which he felt was too much, the BMC administration has reduced the project cost from Rs 113 crore to Rs 63 crore.

Civic officials said fish tanks at the new aquarium in the zoo will be similar to those on display at Taraporewala Aquarium. Pic for representation
Civic officials said fish tanks at the new aquarium in the zoo will be similar to those on display at Taraporewala Aquarium. Pic for representation

However, this scaling down has come at a cost. While the proposal to bring in six Humboldt penguins remains, others like the 5D theatre and robotic zoo have been put on the backburner. The proposal to bring penguins courted controversy after many perceived it as an unnecessary and expensive addition to the zoo.

Last November, civic body floated tenders for construction of the penguin enclosure, construction of an exploration centre, a 5D theatre and a robotic zoo at a total cost of Rs 106 crore. The final cost of the revamp was later pegged at Rs 113 crore. But Mehta expressed his displeasure and asked officials to reduce the expenditure. Following his directive, the budget was brought down to Rs 63 crore. The project now proposes construction of a ground plus two-storeyed structure, hosting an aquarium and the penguin enclosure on the ground floor, and an administrative office on the second floor. Besides, the ground floor will also have a seminar hall with a seating capacity of 150-200 people.

“The objective is to allow people the experience of visiting a zoo and an aquarium at the same time. The new proposal is likely to be tabled before the Standing Committee in the coming fortnight. Once approvals are in place, it will take maximum 10 months to construct the premises. So we are hoping to complete the enclosure by year-end,” a BMC officer said.

The proposal
Spread across 1,678 sq ft, the penguin enclosure will comprise pools, feeding areas, artificial habitat, water pumps, acrylic glass for viewing and cooling facility, among others. Meanwhile, the aquarium on the ground floor will occupy 4,305 sq ft. It will have 4-5 rectangular tanks and 2-3 circular tanks, similar to those on display at Taraporewala Aquarium.

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