Despite public criticism over increasing the entry fee for Byculla zoo, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday gave its approval to hike the charges. Zoo director Dr Sanjay Tripathi said the revised charges will come into effect from August 1. The civic body had proposed Rs 50 as the entry fee for adults (any person above 12 years) instead of the current entry fee of Rs 5. The entry fee for a family of four (parents and two children) is Rs 100 while for kids (up to 12 years), it is Rs 25. For senior citizens, entry is free. The BMC has proposed a monthly fee of Rs 150 for people coming for jogging.
Even as the BJP had opposed the proposal, the Shiv Sena managed to get the proposal passed in the general body meeting. In May, the proposal was passed in the standing committee as the Congress extended support to the Sena. The BJP had opposed the hike in entry fee. BJP leaders said the Sena did not allow them to speak on the proposal.
“Though the Sena had the majority for the proposal, it should have at least allowed discussion on the proposal. We raised our hands in the House but were not allowed to speak. The proposal was passed immediately. It is murder of democracy,” said Manoj Kotak, senior BJP corporator and party group leader in the BMC. The civic body opened the penguin enclosure for public viewing at the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, also popularly known as Byculla zoo, on March 18.
At present, the zoo authorities charge a nominal fee of Rs 2 for children and Rs 5 for adults for viewing the seven penguins. The penguin enclosure has been drawing huge crowds to the zoo. While there are around 15,000 visitors on weekdays, the number goes up to 35,000 on weekends.