The Shiv Sena, which rules the municipal corporation, wants to shift the crocodiles and birds from the Byculla zoo to the Powai garden. The plan is to develop the Babasaheb Ambedkar Udyan at Powai along the lines of the Jurong Bird Park at Singapore.
Confirming the proposal, Rahul Shewale chairman of the civic Standing Committee, said: “On the 36-acre plot at Powai, 12 acres will be reserved for the garden. The crocodile and bird parks will come up on the remaining land.” But it’s not clear whether the cash-strapped municipal corporation will fund the project or it will hand it over to a private firm. Shewale and other civic officials plan to inspect the work at Powai garden, which was once a popular picnic spot, on Wednesday. In July, group leaders from all political parties, Mayor Shraddha Jadhav and Shewale had visited Singapore on a study tour. Impressed by the Jurong Bird Park, they sought to build one in Mumbai too.
But animal activists are opposed to the plan. Sunish Subramanian, senior member of Plants and Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), said: “I will be the first to object this plan. Instead of shifting the animals from the zoo, the municipal corporation should maintain the Byculla zoo. It should also recruit qualified staff to take care of the animals.” Subramanian alleged: “The municipal corporation seems to be influenced by the builders’ lobby and Sena wants to hike the property rate in Powai. If the crocodile pond and bird park are set up in Powai, other corporators will also demand similar ‘zoos’ in their wards.” But Anil Anjankar, Byculla Zoo director, clarified that it was just a suggestion. “The decision has yet not been taken. The municipal body will have to get a clearance from Central Zoo Authority before shifting crocodiles to any other place,” he added.