The three-year deadline for the expansion and redevelopment of the capital’s only zoo has passed without any considerable progress. Despite extravagant plans by the civic agency to overhaul the dilapidated Marghazar Zoo, not much has changed.
Out of the 50 animal enclosures, only two, for the black buck and chinkara, have been constructed so far. Work was subsequently suspended on the pretext of the financial crunch. Moreover, money is yet to be allocated even for the routine operations of the zoo for the ongoing financial year.
The cost of the three-year expansion project which kicked off in August 2008 was Rs1407.8 million.
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Its purpose was to provide a semi-natural environment for the animals and enhance the experience of the visitors through efficient designing. As per the Capital Development Authority (CDA) plan as displayed on the official website, the proposed zoo was going to be extended to over an area of 82 acres, including the 20 acres of the current facility. Similarly, 200 different species of animals were going to be added to the current flock.
It was also proposed that in the upgraded zoo, the animals will be kept in open areas and the visitors will use elevated walkways to view them.
Currently, the zoo houses around 77 mammals of 17 species, 569 birds of 45 species and 13 reptiles of three species. The zoo however remains deprived of the King of the Jungle-the lion. Unfortunately, most of these are also being kept in an unsuitable atmosphere.
Meanwhile, CDA Chairman Imtiaz Inayat Elahi is still optimistic to execute the project. When questioned about the complete lack of progress made on the subject, he said, “We will achieve our targets soon.”
Another senior CDA official said that the relevant department of the civic agency is planning to restart the work as soon as possible, but some officials are delaying the allocation of funds. The Project Director of Marghazar Zoo Abdur Rashid said that it was CDA’s priority to provide natural environment to the animals. “Design of the project is yet to be submitted by the consultant, due to which work could not be started,” added Rashid, offering a different account for the delay in the execution.
Giving details of the project, he said that each enclosure spans over one acre and consists of ponds, night quarter, keepers’ area, fan, water connection and food storage area. He said that in the next phase, the CDA is planning the construction of another six enclosures for two African lions, three black bears, two brown bears, three blue bulls, cheetahs and four sambar deer.
The project includes an amphitheatre, two restaurants and separate entrances for commoners and VIPs. As per the PC-1, the zoo would also have a nocturnal enclosure (for animals that appear in the night), dolphin enclosure and a butterfly park. The butterfly park would be covered by a net and butterflies of various species would be kept there; however arrangements would be made so that visitors may not touch them, he said.
Furthermore, three aviaries have been planned that would be segregation keeping in view the kinds of birds; one for heavy birds, another for parrots and sparrows, and the third one for wild birds.
He said the CDA is allocating Rs50 million for the upcoming phase, though the estimated cost of work in this phase is Rs150 million.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2011.
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