BMC chief Praveen Pardeshi: New zoo will help preserve Aarey better
BMC chief responds to mid-day report highlighting tribals' concerns, says proposed zoo will aid in conserving green lung and ward off encroachments
While the tribal residents of Aarey Milk Colony have opposed the proposed zoo alleging that authorities have not taken them into confidence for the project, the BMC chief has claimed otherwise. Praveen Pardeshi told mid-day that the 120-acre plot, where the zoo is set to come up at the cost of Rs 500 crore, has been in BMC's possession for several years and the location was finalised after taking all factors into consideration, which is why the project found mention in the Development Plan 2034.
On Monday, mid-day reported in, 'Proposed Aarey Zoo in leopard corridor: Locals', about the opposition to the project by members of the tribal community and Aarey activists, who claim the plot finalised for the zoo falls in the middle of an area frequented by leopards and other wild animals.
They had carried out a protest march on Sunday to voice their issues with the project. Members of the tribal community have alleged that the state government decided to set up the zoo without taking them into confidence. They also said that tribals from six hamlets have been farming on close to 70 acres of the 120-acre plot proposed for the zoo.
Responding to the opposition, Pardeshi said, "The plot on which the zoo is going to come up in Aarey has been in our possession for many years; a boundary wall surrounding the plot has already been erected. The Mumbai DP 2034 also shows that the plot has been reserved for setting up a zoo of international standards, which will be an attraction not just for tourists but also for researchers."
Talking about the claims made by the tribals, Pardeshi said, "Their claims that the land where the zoo is set to come up belongs to them are wrong because it originally belonged to Aarey Milk Colony."
Pardeshi added that protecting Aarey is important, but had the plan for the zoo not been taken up, the area might have been encroached upon by illegal hutments which pose a major threat to the colony. The proposed zoo is said to have night safaris, along with a conservation, protection and breeding centre for rare and endangered wild animals like the wild buffaloes, otters, leopards and hornbills, said Pardeshi. It will also house a nature interpretation centre.
Amount of acres the new zoo will be spread over
Cost of the project
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