VMC officials exploring the possibility of leasing them out to generate revenue

With the change of guard in the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation, the issue of maintaining the bird and animal enclosures at Rajiv Gandhi Park here has surfaced again.

Municipal Commissioner Md. Abdul Azeem has asked officials to explore the possibility of maintaining the wild animals at the park. The officials, however, are perplexed over it, as the Indian Forest Act, 1927, does not permit caging of wild animals.

It may be recalled that the former Municipal Commissioner, P. S. Pradyumna, had asked the officials concerned to hand over the birds and animals to the Forest Department citing difficulties in maintaining them.

The VMC officials, following Mr. Pradyumna’s suggestion, approached the Forest Department, but had to face a volley of questions such as “Is there a licence?”, “Have user charges been paid?”, and “From where the birds and animals have been procured?”

The VMC officials found no records to answer these questions. Consequently, the Forest Department expressed its inability to take possession of these birds and animals without the permission from the higher-ups in Hyderabad.

A deer died when a pack of dogs attacked it in the park in 2010. In the post-mortem, dogbites were found on the deer. Plastic bags were also found in the stomach of the deer. Thereafter, much attention was not paid on maintenance of the birds and animals at the park.

With fresh instructions from the Commissioner, the VMC officials are now inclined towards the second option of leasing out the vacant enclosures to agencies such as the KFC or pizza sellers.

The proposal to maintain wild animals would open a Pandora’s box as, under the Forest Act, it was necessary to create a natural ambience even if the corporation wanted to maintain only deer and peacocks.

This was not possible at the park. Hence, the best option before it was to go for revenue generation, officials say.

There are love birds, khazana ducks, monkeys, tortoises, guinea pigs and fowls, peacocks, Japan fowls, and aquariums in the park. In all, there are 200 birds, fish, and animals.

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