A standing committee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has cleared a Rs 15 crore tender for maintenance of the penguin enclosure at Byculla Zoo for three years.
According to a report in the Times of India, the Shiv Sena-led BMC cleared the proposal on Monday. The BJP, however, opposed the spending, citing that the maintenance cost was too high.
The Humboldt penguins were brought to the zoo in 2017 from Seoul, South Korea, to push tourism development. The move was considered to be the brainchild of Maharashtra Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray.
The BMC claimed that after the penguins were brought to the zoo, its income increased by 500 per cent or Rs 12.26 crore, even as the footfall of visitors increased just around 30 per cent. This was due to the drastic increase in ticket prices the same year, the BMC said.
However, BJP Corporator Vinod Mishra claimed that the tenders were rigged to favour only one company, which had been penalised in the past.
“The penguins have adjusted to Mumbai but our BMC staff still don’t know how to take care of them and the zoo has been forced to appoint a private company for their care. The per day cost i Rs 1,06,613 now which will go up to Rs 1,39,282 per day. This is a 30 per cent increase in present rates. Only Rs 3.16 crore was allocated in the budget but now they are spending 63 per cent per year more. We will move the court on this,” the Times of India quoted Vinod Mishra as saying.
In a written reply to Samajwadi Party MLA and corporator Rais Shaikh, the BMC has stated that there were 12.51 lakh visitors in the year 2015-16 and the zoo earned Rs 70.03 lakh from ticket sales.
In 2017-28, the footfall rose to 17.57 lkh and the income thus generated was Rs 4.36 crore. In 2018-19, the number of visitors dropped to 12.7 lakh but income increased to Rs 5.42 crore.
In 2019-20, 10.66 lakh peopel visited the zoo but the earnings were Rs 4.67 crore.
Source – India Today