BJP MLA Ashish Shelar on Friday sought an SIT probe into the purchase of eight penguins by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the city-based Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, more commonly known as the Byculla Zoo.
Shelar, the Mumbai chief of the BJP, also wants the revamp of the zoo to be made part of the probe by the Special Investigation Team. He made this demand during a debate in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly yesterday.
The leader sought to know if the penguins brought from abroad were bacteria infected and alleged that the project manager responsible for preparing the master plan for the zoo revamp was appointed without calling for bids.
The Byculla zoo redevelopment plan was first envisaged in 2005. The master plan was prepared in 2009 which was rejected by the civic body’s heritage conservation committee. Despite that, the same firm was awarded the contract to prepare a new plan.
The MLA further alleged that the project cost escalated from Rs 140 crore to Rs 450 crore, adding that there was “documentary proof to suggest violations” in the project.
He also claimed that the firm which was awarded the contract had used bogus mails, forged documents and did not have any experience of doing such a work as it primarily dealt in road works.
Shiv Sena MLA and former Mumbai mayor Sunil Prabhu said his party would also insist on an inquiry as the then corporators had passed the proposal in the BMC, which was mooted by the BMC commissioner.
On March 17, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Mumbai mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar had inaugurated a newly-built enclosure for penguins at the Byculla Zoo. The zoo comes under the BMC, which has been ruled by the Shiv Sena rule for over two decades.