Mumbai municipal commissioner defends Rs 15 crore tender against opposition parties’ criticism
Geetanjali Minhas | September 8, 2021 | Mumbai
Responding to the criticism from the opposition Congress and BJP for floating a tender of Rs 15 crore for the upkeep of seven penguins at the Byculla zoo, the the Shiv Sena-led Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has clarified that the penguins have in fact led to an increase in its income.
Putting out data along with a statement, municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said that the total cumulative income of the MCGM’s Veermata Jeejabai Bhonsale Udyan (Byculla zoo) between April 2014 and March 2017, i.e., for three years was Rs. 2.10 crore. However, after the arrival of the penguins in March 2017, the total cumulative income of the zoo between April 2017 and March 2020 was Rs. 14.36 crore.
“Therefore, it is clear that the income of the zoo increased by Rs. 12.26 crore. Total value of the tender for expenditure on penguins was Rs. 11.46 crores. It is amply clear that increase in the income of the zoo after the arrival of the penguins is much more than the expenditure on maintenance of the penguins in the zoo. In light of the above facts it is incorrect to state that MCGM is suffering huge losses due to the arrival of penguins in the zoo.”
The BMC reportedly had floated a tender at an estimated cost of Rs 15.26 crore for the upkeep of the seven penguins for the next 36 months, amounting to Rs 5 crore per annum. The current contract for Rs 11.5 crore which was floated in September 2018 will end this month. The civic authority had floated a fresh tender in August.
Alleging that BMC has inflated costs, both opposition parties in the BMC have criticised it for failing to create an in-house management system since 2016 when the penguins were first brought to the zoo from South Korea.
On Monday, the BJP group leader in BMC, Prabhakar Shinde had written to the civic administration to cancel the tender. “At a time when resources need to be spent on improving the city’s health and civic infrastructure, BMC is spending a whopping Rs 15 crore on maintaining its VVIP penguins. This shows how misplaced its priorities are. We will staunchly oppose this move in the BMC’s general body meeting.”
The BJP also sought an explanation on increase in the estimated cost by 50 percent and said that available zoo staffers should take care of penguins and their enclosure.
The Congress group leader in BMC, Ravi Raja had also called the expenditure unjustified. “In times of financial crisis the corporation needs to set its priorities straight. In five years BMC should have developed its in-house maintenance system instead of paying whopping rates to contractors for the management of the penguins” he said.
The Byculla zoo had bought eight penguins from Seoul on July 26, 2016, for Rs 45 crore. One penguin had died two months after being brought to the zoo. The penguins were put for public display in March 2017 in their enclosure area spread over 1,800 square feet that consists of their water pool, accommodation area, air handling units and a cooling system.
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