The Byculla Zoo in Mumbai spent Rs 8.25 crore on an enclosure for lions, Rs 7.15 crore on one for wolves and Rs 3.82 crore on a third for otters. The catch – there are no lions, wolves or otters.
The zoo has spent nearly Rs 20 crore on empty cage, according to a Right To Information query filed by The Young Whistleblowers Foundation, which slammed the zoo’s “extravagant spending on enclosures for animals that are not yet part of the zoo”.
“This kind of expenditure defies logic and fiscal prudence. It would have been a judicious move to construct these enclosures once the animals were confirmed for procurement. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s decision to invest heavily in enclosures without a clear plan for acquiring the animals is clearly an inappropriate use of public funds,” the group said.
Activists have questioned the zoo over lavish amounts spent on as yet empty enclosures.
However, a BMC official told a news website it made more sense to construct enclosures now as prices may increase. The official claimed the zoo would have to “spend almost double the cost” because of the high price of stainless steel, concrete and other materials.
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The enclosures – described as a “one-time cost” – were built after required approval from the authorities, including the union animal husbandry ministry, the official said.
A second official told another news website “he process for getting new animals takes time” and that the enclosures had been built in anticipation of the new arrivals. According to this official, a deal to exchange zebras for lions from a zoo in Germany has been stuck for years.