The state government has proposed to delete the reservation of garden & zoo for a 1,375 sq m (14,800 sq ft) plot adjacent to Byculla zoo and convert it into a residential zone.
Following a directive from the state’s urban development department (UDD), BMC approved the change in December and its development plan (DP) department has invited suggestions and objections from the public for the proposed change.
The state claimed the plot was not being acquired by BMC for the expansion of the zoo and that no garden or zoo existed there. Officials said that in DP-2034, the plot, in Mazgaon Division, was reserved for a garden/park & zoo and later the government notified the reservation as garden & zoo.
Activist Zoru Bhathena said he would submit objections while Hutokshi Rustomfram, trustee of Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation, said they would “examine the proposal and then submit our objections accordingly”.
Opposing the state’s proposal to delete the reservation of garden & zoo for a 1,375 sq m plot adjacent to the city zoo and convert it into a residential zone, activist Zoru Bhathena called for steps to preserve green spaces, not destroy them.
“And now it’s the turn of Byculla Zoo, where 1,373 sq m of land reserved for the zoo and garden is being de-reserved and moved into a residential development zone. As Mumbai develops, we need more open space and not less. It is terrible to see how the government is de-reserving every inch of open green space. Can the authorities not see what is happening to Mumbai’s air quality? The authorities need to take every step to protect and preserve our green spaces, not destroy every square inch,” Bhathena said.
“UDD through a letter dated November 16, 2022, directed to follow due process for modification under section 37(1) pf the Maharashtra Region and Town Planning (MRTP) Act, 1966, for deleting the reservation of garden and zoo and include the said pot in residential zone… as the plot is not included in acquisition process by BMC. Further, there is no existing garden/zoo (extension of Veermata Jijabai Bhonsale Udayan) on site,” the BMC said in its notice.
Officials said administrator Iqbal Singh Chahal accorded sanction to the proposal through a resolution in December 2022 to modify the plot’s reservation and invite suggestions/objections from the public.
Hutokshi Rustomfram, trustee of the Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation, said they would examine the proposal. “We will go through the public notice, speak to UDD and then submit our objections accordingly,” Rustomfram said.
In the 160th anniversary year of Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo, commonly known as Rani Baug, the BMC has approved a proposal to change the official name of the gardens and zoo to include the term ‘vanaspati’ or’botanical’.