Delhi Zoo becomes virtual island, agencies pass buck

September 11th, 2011 - 8:39 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 11 (IANS) Life in the city may have returned to normal after Friday’s torrential rains but Delhi Zoo is still a virtually island, while the authorities pass the buck and accuse each other of mismanagement.

Delhi Zoo authorities blamed the civic agencies like Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) for the floods in the zoo, which its closure for an “indefinite period” as most of the animal enclosures are inundated.

“We have been repeatedly requesting the civic agencies like MCD and the DJB to fix the drainage system and the storm water drains of the zoo, but they have not heeded our pleas,” complained a zoo official.

According to zoo authorities, the national zoological park, which is in low lying area, was flooded by water flowing in from neighbouring areas like Bapa Nagar, Old Fort and Sunder Nagar. Adding to this, the DJB sewer water gets mixed with rain water in few enclosures as the DJB sewer line runs parallel to the zoo boundary wall.

However, refuting the charges made by the zoo authorities, the DJB official said: “The DJB has no presence in the zoo, which has its own drainage system.”

“However, whenever the sewage blockage problem arises particularly during the monsoon season, we have set up pumps to drain out the water,” the DJB official said.

Meanwhile, an MCD official said: “It will take another five months for the storm water drains to be fixed and we cannot do anything immediately.”

Zoo officials were having none of it.

“We have been holding regular weekly meetings with the MCD and DJB, but the problem is yet to be solved. We have now three permanent pumps to drain and fixed three additional pumps to drain out the water,” the zoo official said.

The enclosures of 42 cheetal deer, 22 white bucks and 3 rhinoceros have been worst affected and the animals have been moved to other enclosures.

“The animals are safe, we are taking all precautions particular for the cheetal, white bucks and rhinoceros. Their health is being monitored and added vitamins are given to them. We cannot say when we will reopen the zoo as the water is still being pumped out from the animal enclosures,” Zoo director A.K Agnihotri told IANS.

Spread over an area of 240 acres, the national zoological park attracts over 8,000 visitors during weekends. The zoo was set up in 1959.

Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan recently informed the Lok Sabha that 109 animals died in the Delhi Zoo last year alone. This included several black bucks, which died due to consumption of contaminated water.

The zoo houses over 1,300 varieties of mammals, reptiles and avian species. It is also home to many endangered species in India.

The leopard cat, Indian rhinoceros, hippopotamus, black buck, Indian gazelle and lion-tailed macaque are among the animals found here. It also houses nearly all varieties of deer found in the country.

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