Mumbai: Byculla Zoo to get Rs 35-crore theatre

BMC set to revive a once thriving open-air tamasha theatre at Jijamata Udyaan

For those who remember Jijamata Udyaan or Byculla Zoo’s open-air theatre, there is good news. With a budget of Rs 35 crore, the BMC is in the process of redeveloping the space into a 600-seater theatre that will be named after late folk poet and social reformer Annabhau Sathe.

The Annabhau Sathe open-air theatre in Byculla Zoo, currently in ruin, will be redeveloped into a closed, air-conditioned space so that animals are not disturbed. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The Annabhau Sathe open-air theatre in Byculla Zoo, currently in ruin, will be redeveloped into a closed, air-conditioned space so that animals are not disturbed. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Once complete, the theatre will be a closed structure, unlike its open-air predecessor, to ensure that the zoo’s fauna is not disturbed by performances.

The theatre is located at one end of the zoo and stretches for about an acre. Anecdotes relating to it reveal that it once hosted a vibrant tamasha culture, a Maharashtrian folk song, dance and drama form. However, about two decades ago, the BMC pulled down its shutters, citing that the zoo’s inmates were disturbed by the loud noises from the performances. Since then, the space has remained unutilised and has run into ruin.

The BMC’s civic building maintenance department realised that the structure was beyond repair and passed it on to the engineer department. The latter decided to reconstruct it. “We got the proposal and decided to construct it anew. Tenders have already been invited and work should start after the monsoon,” said city engineer Prakash Kadam.

The theatre will be a single-storey structure and will be fully air-conditioned. It will have basement parking, and a separate entrance from Patanwala Road, which runs near one side of the zoo. Work is expected to be completed in two years.

“As long as it does not disturb the animals, we have no objection to it,” said the zoo’s director Sanjay Tripathi.

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