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‘Cement mixing plant next to Byculla zoo will affect flora, fauna’

The three-acre plot behind the zoo is marked as a ‘reserved garden’ in the city’s development plan. It was being used a plant nursery before a part of it was recently torn down to build the mixing plant.

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A large concrete-mixing plant on land reserved as a garden next to the Byculla zoo has created concerns about its risk to the zoo’s animals and plants.

The three-acre plot behind the zoo is marked as a ‘reserved garden’ in the city’s development plan. Known as the Poddar Mills compound, it was acquired a few years ago for the zoo’s expansion.

It was being used a plant nursery before a part of it was recently torn down to build the mixing plant. At least three large cement silos have come up on the plot.

Civic officials said that the concrete made at the plant was meant for new facilities being built in the zoo.

But civic groups, which have written to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), said they suspect that concrete is supplied to other building sites nearby as there is a restriction on constructions in the zoo.

They said the plant is causing noise and air pollution.

Hutoxi Rustomfram of the group Save Ranibaug Botanical Garden Action Committee said that since the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Society has not approved the BMC’s redevelopment plans for the zoo, construction activity cannot take place there.

He warned that cement from the concrete plant will turn soil surface in the lush green plot into a hard and non-permeable mix that will not support vegetation.

Citizen groups have opposed the zoo’s redevelopment saying it will destroy its heritage nature and reduce the greenery.

Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Kumar Gupta said that the zoo is building an Interpretation Centre for visitors. “This is a requirement of the Central Zoo Authority. The plant must be for that. I will look at the letters sent by the groups,” he said.

However, Nayana Kathpalia of CitiSpace said that any change in the plot’s reservation can done only by following a legal process that includes asking the public for suggestions and objections.

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