The deserted premises of Maharajbagh zoo. (Pic by Satish Raut)
By Chandana Roy :
THE Maharajbagh Zoo, spread over an area of 10.3 hectare in the heart of the city, is facing funds crisis due to the ongoing pandemic. The 127 years old zoo run by Dr Panjabrao Deshmukh Krushi Vidyapeeth (PDKV) has been hit financially due to a series of lockdowns for last one-and-a-half years. As per the statement of income and expenditure during financial year 2020-2021, the income of the zoo was Rs 20 lakh while the expenditure was Rs 47.71 lakh. Speaking to ‘The Hitavada’, the zoo authorities asserted that despite the financial constraints posed by the pandemic they had been able to maintain the zoo well. Maharajbagh zoo, being one of the oldest in the country, evokes nostalgia among Nagpurians as perhaps rarely such a beautiful zoo with 10 hectare of greenery is located in the heart of any other city. The zoo housing hundreds of birds and animals has already received recognition from Central Zoo Authority (CZA). Associate Dean of the PDKV who is also the zoo controller, Dr D M Panchbhai, said that funding for the zoo was a major concern.
“The zoo is being run by tendering the ticket counter only. It is maintained by the revenue received from sale of tickets. Due to the pandemic the zoo is facing so many financial problems. The zoo has to be maintained as per the norms and we have tried to maintain it at our level best without any problem.” Dr Panchbhai added that while the zoo has received funds from the PDKV, the College of Agriculture, Nagpur, it has requested funds from the State Government and Forest Department for its maintenance and developmental plans. He also confirmed that presently all the animals which were earlier supposed to be shifted to Gorewada zoo are in Maharajbagh zoo. Officer in-charge of the zoo and Director Dr S S Bawaskar said that the pandemic has been tough on the zoo, but the PDKV has provided funds for the proper upkeep of the animals. “We spend Rs 10 lakh per month on maintenance of the animals in the zoo. The PDKV has allotted more than Rs 1 crore for the zoo.”
He added that the situation at the zoo was slowly improving as it has been open for visitors since last one to one-and-a-half months. “Earlier Nagpur city had many gardens such as Bezonbagh, Gandhibagh, Motibagh, Hasanbagh but greenery at these gardens has been lost due to rise in concrete structures in the areas. However, Maharajbagh is still full of greenery and it does help control the temperature, pollution and is thus known as the green lungs of the city,” said Dr Bawaskar adding that the natural habitat of Maharajbagh should be maintained as it is. Kaustav Chatterjee of the Green Vigil Foundation said that due to developmental work Nagpur had been losing its greenery at a very alarming rate.
“If the animals are shifted, it will no longer remain a zoo and this green patch too may also get converted into a concrete jungle within no time. So to convert a green patch into a concrete jungle the first step is to shift the zoo.” Chatterjee also said that from an environmental perspective he firmly believed that the zoo should remain where it was. He added that if the Government wished funds could be provided for the zoo, but if the intention was to have sky-scrappers or shopping malls then definitely it could claim that it couldn’t arrange the funds. “The Government has enough funds, but its intention is very important,” he said.