• Byculla Zoo turns battleground as Sena-BJP fight over fee hike

    Laxman SinghMumbaiMay 19, 2017, 18:17 IST

    Visitors queue up outside Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo in Byculla. File pic
    Visitors queue up outside Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo in Byculla. File pic

    The recently proposed fee hike for Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo in Byculla has become a political battleground for former allies Shiv Sena and BJP. After the 20-fold hike was cleared in the market and garden committee, the proposal will be tabled before the standing committee for approval today. However, with all parties, except the Sena, up in arms against the hike, high drama is expected at the meeting.

    While BJP is opposing the fee hike and limited entry to the Byculla Zoo, Shiv Sena-led Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is keen on clearing the proposal. The Congress, NCP, MNS and Samajwadi Party are also opposing the civic body’s move. According to officials from the civic body, it could be difficult to pass the proposal without help of other political parties.

    An official from the municipal secretary department said, “In the standing committee, both Sena and BJP have equal number (10) of members. If BJP demands voting on the proposal and gets support from the Opposition to vote against the proposal, it would not be possible for Sena to clear the hike. BJP will have 16 votes in their favour against Sena’s 10 members.”

    Sena has proposed to increase the entry fee from R5 to R100 for adults and from R2 to R25 for children. Also, evening walkers are likely to be barred inside the zoo. According to the proposal, joggers will be allowed within the zoo premises only from 6 am to 8 am, and they will have to shell out R150 per month. Joggers had to pay a monthly fee of R30 earlier.

    Citizens groups and the Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation have opposed the proposed hike stating that it will impinge upon the fundamental rights of the public to access open spaces.

    The Foundation had written to CM Devendra Fadnavis and BMC chief Ajoy Mehta urging them to stop the hike.

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