WITH THE Wildlife Institute of India expert team rejecting the proposal to set up a Night Safari in Chandigarh, it will now be set up in Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park, also known as Chhatbir Zoo. The brainchild of the UT Administrator V P Singh Badnore, this ambitious project was initially planned for Chandigarh. But there was no suitable site available to set it up. The City Beautiful’s loss is going to be Punjab’s gain now. A top official of the Punjab government dealing with the wildlife confirmed on Tuesday that the state government was fully prepared to take up this project. He said that there was a plan to include it in the Master Plan of the zoo, which is being given a face-lift in phases.
“As we have been given the go-ahead for the project by the authorities concerned, the blueprint of the project would be prepared soon to include it in the Master Plan. It should be ready within two months,” said Kuldeep Kumar, Punjab Chief Conservator for Forests. He added that they would soon submit the case to the Central Zoo Authority of India.
“For now, we will decide the place where the safari could be set up within the zoo. There are nocturnal animals in the zoo. Work is going on to give a new look to the enclosures of animals,” Kumar said.
There is only one night safari in the world. That is in Singapore which was set up at a huge cost. Another one is coming up China. In the Singapore safari, there are Asian lions, Asian elephants, Malayan tigers, Malayan tapirs, fishing cats and many other endangered species. Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh governments are also planning to set up Singapore-type safari in their respective states. The UP government is setting up one in Noida and has engaged an international consultancy firm to prepare the project.
The initial budget for setting up the night safari at Chhatbir Zoo is likely to be in the range of Rs 100 crore. “As enough land is available at the Chhatbir Zoo, there would be no problem in setting up the safari. In fact, as Chhatbir Zoo is located just near the highway and at a few miles from the city beautiful, it would be the best place for the safari because it would attract tourists in big numbers,” said Kumar.
Even tourists from faraway places such as Delhi could travel down to Chhatbir in few hours and return after visiting the safari, said a senior official of the state wildlife department.
Chief Wildlife Conservator of Chandigarh Santosh Kumar said that there was no possibility of setting up two safaris — one in Chandigarh and the other at Chhatbir. “As adequate land is available at Chhatbir, there would be no difficulty to set up the safari there,” he said.