Maharashtra government sanctions funds for building zoo in Aarey

Updated: Oct 15, 2019, 14:42 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

The state government has reportedly signed an agreement with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to set up a zoo of 'international standards' in Aarey colony

File photo of Aarey Milk Colony
File photo of Aarey Milk Colony

Even after the Supreme Court directed the Maharashtra government to stop the felling of trees in Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon for building the Metro car shed, the trees in the area might have to face the axe again as the government passes financial aid for building a zoo.

According to a report in the Indian Express, the government had passed Rs 60 lakhs for funding the construction of a conservation wall of the zoo in July this year, which is planned to be built in the Tulsi forest area, located between Marol and Aarey. The grant was approved by the forest department through a government resolution (GR) on October 9.

The state government has reportedly signed an agreement with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to set up a zoo of ‘international standards’ in Aarey colony.

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The report also mentioned that the number of trees to be axed is not yet known, as the GR has not mentioned the number. The government has acquired 190 acres of land in Aarey for the project that has been in the pipeline since 2009. The total cost of the project is said to estimated at Rs 500 crores and it is expected to be ready in four to five years.

Among the plans for running the zoo, receiving animals through an exchange programme with zoos of other countries is on cards. Apart from the captive breeding programme for the conservation of endangered species, the Aarey arm of the Byculla zoo providing jungle safari as an attraction is also being planned, the report mentioned. The net revenue encashed from the zoo will be sharing between the BMC and the forest department.

The BMC is said to be a hiring project management consultant to chalk out a plan for the zoo, which is said to be executed from its own resources. Meanwhile, locals and Adivasis who might lose their land in this project is said to be protesting and opposing the plan. Activists and environmentalists are demanding from the government that the Aarey colony and its neighbour Sanjay Gandhi National Park be declared a forest.

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