Powai – 16 March 08 : Based on the RTI application filed by PAWS last year it revealed that more than 75deer have been kept in captivity without proper care in the Powai Municipal Garden for last 40 years without permission from the Central Zoo Authority’s (CZA) or the Wildlife Authority. “Every year, during rains, these poor animals have to languish in muck and flood. The deer enclosure neither has proper sheds nor any feeding facilities for the animals. Usually, when it rains, they all huddle up in a small area which has a roof,” Sunish Subramanian, member secretary of PAWS said. He added, “Hopefully, this time around, the shifting will be complete before the monsoons.” But now their fate is close to freedom. Nearly one year after deciding to release the animals in the wild at Tungareshwar, the state forest department said that arrangements are on to begin shifting by March end. Speaking on their relea
se plan last week B Majumder, the chief wildlife warden, Maharashtra, told, “We have permitted the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) authorities to move the deer. They can start the shifting immediately.” Earlier, discussions to shift the deer to the forest before last year’s monsoon, was postponed for want of necessary permissions. “We will now be moving the deer soon,” confirmed P N Munde, conservator of forest, SGNP, adding, “It is a tedious process and the animals will be transported in batches of 10-15. We intend to dispatch the first batch to Tungareshwar by the end of this month. Then depending on how they adapt to the new forest, we will slowly introduce the others.” The deer are still languishing in the enclosure in Powai garden at a cost of over Rs 15 lakh a year for the department. Its proximity to the Vihar lake, the Powai garden and especially the low lying deer enclosure face severe floods in monsoons making life hell for the animals. Two years back, the BMC’s Hydraulic department, which manages the Powai Municipal Garden, had admitted in a letter to the conservator of forests that it “does not have proper infrastructure, skilled staff and a veterinary doctor” to maintain the animals, and therefore, requested permission to release the deer in the wild.