Highways department wanted to acquire 4,800 sq. m. of zoo land near GST Road

The multi-crore Outer Ring Road (ORR) project seems set for further delay.

The State highways department had sought a no-objection certificate (NOC) from Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur to acquire 4,800 square metres of its land. But zoo officials have declined. The department wished to demolish the zoo’s newly-built entrance and ticket counters on GST Road.

The land is needed by Tamil Nadu Road Development Company (TNRDC) to construct ramps and service lanes as part of ORR project.

ORR will connect Vandalur on GST Road in the south with Minjur on Tiruvottiyur-Ponneri-Panchetti Road in the north.

The first phase, costing Rs. 1,081 crore and connecting Vandalur with Nemilicheri, has been completed. Work on the second phase is set to begin soon, an official said.

The renovated zoo was inaugurated by Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa last June. “We have taken up the issue with higher authorities. The Sate forests minister has assured to help end the deadlock,” a zoo official said.

Originally known as Madras Zoo, it was located near Park Town station before moving to Vandalur reserve forest. “There are several endangered species in the zoo and most enclosures are located near the main entrance. The din of construction work and heavy vehicular traffic will disturb the animals,” a senior zoo official said.

The zoo was renovated last year at a cost of Rs. 4 crore under the Tourism Development Scheme 2010-11. The work included installation of colourful murals on the compound walls and huge lawns covering nearly 300 metres on both sides of the entrance and tiled floors.

An interpretation centre, similar to the one at Vedanthangal bird sanctuary, with LED displays was also built near the entrance. The entire area is lit up at night. An additional 20 computerised ticket counters were built to handle increasing crowds.

“We are weighing several options including altering the project design to address the issue,” said a TNRDC official.

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