Will wild voices finally find echo in Jambu zoo In September?

Skipped twice, J&K’s ‘only full-fledged zoo’ races against time to meet fresh deadline
Will wild voices finally find echo in Jambu zoo In September?
The project was to be constructed at a total cost of Rs 121 Cr in an area of 3200 Kanals at Khanpur Nagrota, which is just 15 kms from Jammu.Abhirami S

BY ABHIRAMI S

Jammu: Jambu Zoo in Nagrota, one of the mega ambitious projects of Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory, after having skipped twice the cut-off date for the completion of its phase-I, is now racing against time to meet revised deadline of September, 2022.

The Jambu Zoo is a much-awaited project of Jammu and Kashmir Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (JKIDFC), being constructed under its Languishing Projects Scheme.

Officials stated that the Jambu Zoo is a multidisciplinary project. The highest authority, associated with this project, is Central Zoo Authority of India (CZAI) while the other authorities include JKIDFC, Forest Secretariat, Lieutenant Governor’s office and Power Development Department (PDD). An NGO Sukhleh Shauchalay will look after its sanitation aspect.

In September 2016, the then Forest Minister Chowdhary Lal Singh had laid the foundation stone of Jambu Zoo. The project was to be constructed at a total cost of Rs 121 Cr in an area of 3200 Kanals at Khanpur Nagrota, which is just 15 kms from Jammu.

Estimated cost of the first phase of Jambu Zoo project was Rs 62.41 Cr. The original deadline for the phase-I completion was November 2021, which was later revised to March 2022. Yet for varied reasons, even this deadline could not be met and it was revised to September 2022.

Initially the Jambu Zoo budget component was part of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). In 2019, the central government changed CAMPA guidelines stating that no zoo would be constructed or renovated under these (CAMPA) funds.

Following it, the government took the decision that the funding would come under JKIDFC’s Languishing Project Scheme. This change besides inadequate funding contributed to the slow pace of construction of Jambu Zoo. COVID pandemic and climate issues were the other reasons cited behind the delay in phase 1 completion.

The construction of the 70 feet gate, likely to be the biggest attraction of Jambu Zoo and which will come under phase-I, is in progress now. After the completion of phase-I, phase-2 will start. The phase-I includes 17 animal enclosures and walk-through aviaries. The main attractions in the Zoo will be lion, tiger, deer, crocodiles, and chambers with more than five species of snakes besides varied bird species.

DFO Amit Sharma, while speaking to Greater Kashmir, stated, “Apart from the wildlife, we have NIC (National Information Centre) that will be having 3-D animations of the entire wildlife of Jammu & Kashmir. Then we’ll have a zipline swing for those who want to do some adventurous trekking plus zipline. And also, we’ll get battery operated vehicles for the visitors.”

“We are expecting at least 10 percent of the Vaishno Devi tourist footfall in Jambu Zoo. The second phase of Jambu Zoo will be the self-funded Zoo. It means we won’t be requiring the funds from outside. I hope Jambu Zoo will be a main attraction in the Jammu & Kashmir tourism sector. As we are expecting a lot of tourists from the domestic circuit as well as from other states of the country,” he said.

According to him, compared to the other zoos in India, which are in plain areas like Chandigarh, Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Kolkata, the Jambu zoo, being in a hilly area, will be very different – very unique. “Obviously it will catch the attention of tourists easily and widely. After the completion, it will be the first full-fledged zoo in J&K,” DFO informed.

“The phase-2 will start after the phase-1 completes and starts functioning. Once the zoo is inaugurated and if we are able to run it properly, then the decision will be taken by the higher authorities to go for the second phase. These are all policy matters. So, it will be decided at a higher level. If everything goes well, the assignment given to me will be completed by the end of September this year. Let’s hope for the best,” he stated, while responding to a query about the possibility of the project meeting its fresh deadline.

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