The Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) is going ahead in full steam with Dolphin Park, one of the dream projects taken up this year.
“I am meeting Manjalamkuzhy Ali, Minister for Urban Affairs and secretary to Local Self Government, to follow up the proposal. It is expected that the preliminary level permission would be issued at the earliest and we can start the work,” said GCDA chairman N. Venugopal, sounding confident.
He countered the allegation that the proposed park violated animal rights. “The rules and regulations meant for animals here should not be applied to the dolphins that are imported from outside. Also, the agency who we are entrusting the work has the expertise of operating parks across the world and hence will observe the mandatory international rules,” he said.
His arguments are propped by experts like P.O. Nameer, head of Centre for Wildlife Studies, College of Forestry of the Kerala Agricultural University. “I have been to the dolphin park at Dubai, where the animals are kept in excellent conditions by professionally trained personnel. As long as there is no compromise on quality of the facilities, I do not see any conflicting issue in having a park here. On the positive side, it will boost the tourism economy,” he said.
He said the discussion on the condition of dolphins was meaningless, especially when an animal like elephant, which belonged to schedule one, was being treated in much worse conditions. “Besides, the practice of using wild animals for entertainment purpose is accepted worldwide. For example, the park at Singapore has a hornbill performing tricks,” he said.
In the proposed dolphin park, there is not even the threat of the animal breaking free and entering the ocean as it is being constructed on land. The proposed park will have main pool with an area of 2,750 sq.m, which the agency claimed was “10 times the minimum requirement specified by international standards.”
Other facilities conceived for the proposed park included ambient air temperature (maintained through round-the-clock centralised air-conditioning system), lighting maintained in the spectrum as close as possible to sunlight and reduced noise level, as the dolphins are very sensitive. It has been suggested that once the State government gives the permission, the park could be set up in 18 months.
“The rules and regulations meant for animals here should not be applied to the dolphins that are imported from outside.”