Monday, July 21, 2008

Zoo story: Goodbye blue sky

Photo: Dr. Debanik

I have written earlier about the criminal theft and privatisation of public space in Calcutta by the govt of West Bengal, acting at the behest of the CPI(M) party (see, here and here).

Perhaps the mother of all such scams is the one involving Calcutta zoo. The conspiracy runs from the central govt to the state govt. Using the pretext of the need for more space and better facilities for the zoo, the zoo is to be shifted from its present location in Alipore to the fringes of the city. And the present premises would then be handed over to a private company to convert into a private development. Needless to add, a nice consideration must have been paid for the favour.

The location in Alipore is very, very valuable real estate. Thanks to the secret bilateral deal with the private company, on the pretext of giving the city a new and better zoo, prime real estate is to be handed over to them on a platter.

Photo: Cathryn Game

The zoo is one of the very few open and recreational spaces in the city accessible to the public at a nominal entrance fee. On Christmas day or on New Year day, tens of thousands of people, mostly humble folk, would be found queueing up to spend a few hours amidst green surroundings. It is one of the few places where families with children can spend a day or have a picnic. The zoo also provides much-needed lungs to a city beleagured by politically sponsored air pollution. To take this out of the public domain, hand it over to a private company and have it converted into a private enclave for the wealthy and powerful - is simply diabolical.

The private company is of course one that is adored by the ruling CPI(M). The same company on whose behalf the state govt appropriated fertile farm land, destroying the livelihoods of thousands of sharecroppers and larm labourers.

Will the people of Calcutta stand up and raise their voice against this criminal conspiracy by their rulers?


Anonymous said...

The same things happen in China...Valance

Deva said...

They should maintain the existing zoo with much needed modifications and build a much bigger new one on the outskirts. Best of all is to build a multistoried zoo that the developers can sell to the animals! Bank loans should be made available to the creatures booking their space. Why not build several such upmarket zoos?

kavitha said...

What all do we stand up for? What all do we fight against? There was a rain of money at the parliament yesterday on national television and the country was still silent, educated people turned a blind eye. Criminals airlifted because their vote mattered. A cop who bungled the Arushi murder case got a promotion after character assassinating an innocent family. And now the zoo is being moved to make space for better use of real estate.

So whats the deal? What all do we change, what all do we stand up for. We can be a few voices screaming out to say "this is not how it should be" but is there any one who is going to listen?

We suffer from deeper problems, indifference towards corruption as a way of life, sickening levels of materialism that even buys out principles, hypocrisy at the highest levels, and all this is starting within our very homes...

Do the animals really matter? or the greenery or the much wanted air?

What is the point?



Zoos in any major metros around the world are not on prime property. In that sense, its good that the zoo is being shifted.

But do we need another "SOUTH CITY" there. NO!! I always thought a UNIVERSITY campus of repute should go there, including a playing area for the locals. With Greens vanishing, its a must!

Anf the University has to be of international repute (when FDI in educational institute is allowed). Imagine a Harvard / MIT extension campus here. Singapore, Shanghai, Dubai has such extension campuses, we should get one too !!! And no better place that the ZOO to start!!!!