The state government on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to set up an international-standard zoo at Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon.
The government handed 120 acres of land in the area — the city’s green lungs — for the project, which has been in the pipeline since 2009. The project’s total cost is an estimated `500 crore and it will come up in four to five years, an official said.
It will have a host of unseen wild animals, trails and jungle safaris, a nature education centre, a separate breeding centre for endangered species like the Great Indian Bustard, and other facilities as per guidelines of Central Zoo Authority (CZA).
Authorities are also mulling over starting a night safari, similar to many foreign countries, where people can view animal enclosures at night.
The proposed site in Aarey Milk Colony was inspected by a Central Zoo Authority (CZA) team in 2014, which recently gave its clearance. The new zoo will be virtually adjacent to tourism centres like Film City and Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).
On Wednesday, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Maharashtra Forest Department and BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) whereby 100 acres of the 190-acre government land will be given for setting up the zoo.
The BMC will soon appoint a project management consultant and prepare a comprehensive master plan for the zoo. The civic body will execute and maintain the facility with its own resources and share the net revenue with the forest department.
The ownership of the land, meanwhile, will continue to remain with the government.
The MoU documents were signed and exchanged in the presence of Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray and Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.
“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.
As per the MoU, the forest department will provide technical expertise in procuring various animals for the zoo and other facilities which would showcase the rich biodiversity of the state and the country.
Due to a shortage of space in central Mumbai, an alternative site inside the Aarey Milk Colony was explored for the new facility. The new zoo will act as an extension of the 50-acre Byculla zoo.