After being put on the back burner for around five years, the proposal to set up an international zoo in Aarey Milk Colony moved one step closer to reality as the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for transfer of land.
On Wednesday, officials from the state forest department, BMC and Byculla Zoo signed an MoU at the civic body’s headquarters at CSMT. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and state Finance and Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar along with Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi were present at the event.
“In a city like Mumbai, where people are stuck in an ‘office-to-home and home-to-office’ routine, the international zoo will give citizens a world-class experience, like the Singapore zoo… It will set as an example for other “ities,” Thackeray said. He also reiterated his demand for developing Mahalaxmi Race Course into a theme park at the event.
Pardeshi, meanwhile, promised to set up a zoo foundation with experts from Sanjay Gandhi Nationa” Park. “The BMC will set up a zoo foundation with a team of experts to look after these zoo act”vities,” he said.
A senior official from the BMC said that in August 2014, the BMC had sent draft MoU to the state government to take over 120 acres land in Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon for developing it as an internatio”al zoo. “As per the draft, the acquired land would be the extension of Byculla Zoo. The land would be with the BMC for 99 years for Rs 1 rent. It would not be only a zoo, but would be developed as world-class edutainm”nt park,” the official said, adding that the zoo will be developed in around five years.
The proposed zoo will have night zoo safari on the lines of a Singapore-based zoo, conservation and protection centre for rare animals to attract tourists.
According to BMC, the project will cost about Rs “00 crore. “A consultant will be appointed for preparing the Detailed Project Report (DPR) as it is a huge project. The BMC will take help of experts for the maintenance and operation of the interna”ional zoo,” an official said.
Meanwhile, members of Save Aarey group staged a protest against the proposal to set up an international zoo. Around eight people from the group tried to enter the MoU event, but they were not allowed.