On Wednesday evening, a surprise spell of heavy downpour left different parts of the city inundated, crippling the normal life. The highest rainfall of 11 cm was recorded in Bahadurpura, a suburb of the Old city which also houses the city’s famous zoo. A panic alarm was sounded by the zoo authorities late evening as bad weather showed no signs of respite.
Parts of the zoo, especially the 99-acre animal safari park were inundated immediately after the adjoining Mir Alam tank started overflowing. After feeding the animals, birds, and reptiles, the entire staff of over 100 people were pressed into emergency services. Even as they cleared the channels and canals inside the 380-acre zoo to ensure a free flow of water, the animal enclosures and moats were filled with water to the brim, and roads were inundated by Thursday morning.
The efforts to pump out water from low lying areas went on till Thursday evening. On Friday morning, officials said the situation was under control and there was no threat to the lives of any animals. The operations may run into another day, while officials hope for no more heavy spells of rainfall.
With the Mir Alam tank adjoining the zoo park, it has become an annual affair to drain out floodwaters from low lying areas of the zoo. In 2016 and 2017, when the situation had turned worse, authorities had decided to do everything to ensure the situation never repeated itself. Again it happened in September 2019 and officials from the Nehru Zoological Park along with officials from the Irrigation department and the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) reviewed it.
“The inflows from Mir Alam tank into low lying areas of the zoo were so heavy that the situation got a bit tricky. Bunds at a few places were breached and water entered moats and enclosures. There was no threat to animals as they were shifted to their night shelters which are equipped with room heaters,” said an official, adding that the initial efforts were to ensure water channels are not clogged anywhere to let it flow out freely.
Removing slush, mud, and any stagnant water is a time taking process and is followed by the sprinkling of lime and bleach to prevent the spread of any diseases. “The zoo is on the lower side and water inflow from the tank is an annual affair now. We ensured that water flow to the exit canal connecting to river Musi is not disturbed anywhere,” the official added.
Over 1900 animals, birds, and reptiles, etc of over 191 species are housed in the zoo. The animal safari park inside the zoo is a crowd puller. All six Lions, three Tigers, 4 Bears, and 5 Bisons in their respective segments in the safari park are now restricted to their night shelters till the waters recede. The zoo has been one of the major attractions in Hyderabad ever since its conception in 1963. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, the zoo has been lying shut for visitors since March 15.
When contacted, the Zoo curator N Kshitija said they have done everything possible to take the situation under control. “We have proactively responded to the situation and deployed our entire staff in the operation to ensure our animals remain safe. Throughout the night teams led by our night duty officer have monitored the situation. We hope it does not continue to rain the same way,” she said.
N Samrat Ashok, the zonal commissioner for the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation’s Charminar zone, told indianexpress.com: “As it rained heavily, people living in the (Hasan Nagar) Basti behind the zoo breached the wall to let water flow out and not stagnate in their colony. This resulted in water flowing into the zoo. We have rectified the problem and are in constant touch with the Zoo’s curator”
The GHMC officials will meet with the zoo curator to further discuss the matter. “We will meet with the Curator on Monday. If there are any more issues, we will get them rectified. Heavy rains are expected till Friday,” Kumar said
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