Four Maharashtra zoos face closure for flouting norms

Four of the 10 zoological parks in the country that were issued closure notices by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) earlier this month are from Maharashtra.

“The four zoos – Maharajbaug Zoo in Nagpur, Mahatma Gandhi Zoo in Solapur, Aurangabad municipal zoo, and Snake Park Shetkari Shikshan Mandal in Kolhapur – have been asked to shut down for violating 40 norms of the CZA, including development of a master plan, appointment of a full-time veterinary officer and director, lack of funds, adequate area for animal enclosures, cleanliness, upkeep, and non-zoo related activities inside the park such as private events,” said an official from the Maharashtra state zoo authority.

Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre (MLRC) in Junnar, Pune district, home to 35 rescued leopards, was also issued a notice on Wednesday for flouting rules. “While MLRC has received extension for a year, CZA has highlighted issues related to upkeep and sanitation. The notice also warns MLRC to ensure rescued leopards are not exhibited in public,” said Kamlakar Dhamge, divisional forest officer, Maharashtra zoo authority.

“All four zoos have appealed against the closure notice,” said Ravikiran Govekar, chief conservator of forests and member secretary (in-charge), Maharashtra zoo authority. “The violations are grave. In some cases, events such as yoga classes are being organised on the premises. In others, the total area allocated for the zoo is missing from the land revenue records or development plan. There are lapses in cleanliness and sanitation in all cases.”

Govekar said it was the responsibility of the district administration and municipal corporations to ensure the violations are rectified. “While zoos in Nagpur, Solapur and Kolhapur have begun efforts to comply with CZA norms, Aurangabad zoo informed us about shifting to a 100-hectare plot and shutting operations at the current site,” he said.

CZA officials said the zoos have time to appeal against the closure. “The zoos have been asked to shut down as their recognition has been withdrawn as a result of repeated violation of guidelines – a violation of section 39-H (6) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The maximum number of such zoos is located in Maharashtra,” said Anup Nayak, member secretary, CZA. “There is a provision in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 to appeal against the cancellation of zoo licences.”

Nayak said some of the zoos had already appealed to the Centre against the closure notices. “We will take stock of the changes made at each zoo and the reports will be submitted to the secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC). They will take a call on whether they should be recognised again. If they fail to make hanges so within a month, these zoos will face permanent closure with transportation of captive animals to other recognised zoos,” said Nayak.

First Published: Jan 19, 2019 00:05 IST

Source: Read Full Article