<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After several false starts, the state government has finally set the ball rolling for the proposed international standards zoo at Gorewada in Nagpur. The largest of its kind in Maharashtra, the zoo and rescue centre will enable people to view animals in their natural habitat and boost eco-tourism.The first in India to have a night safari like in foreign countries, the zoo was first proposed in 2005 but is still in incubation stage. The state’s attempts to develop the 1,914 hectare project—which falls in Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ hometurf—on public private partnership (PPP) basis had been stillborn due to lack of response from bidders. The state will now undertake work through its own kitty.However, a high-power committee under Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya has approved the project’s first phase, which includes an Indian safari, with elements like tiger, leopard, sloth bear and herbivore safaris on 145 hectare of land.”We have approved the Indian safari in the first phase and the African safari will be next,” Kshatriya said DNA. The proposal will be submitted to Fadnavis for approval.Sources from the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM), said it would cost Rs44 crore.The state government had sought Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, clearances from the Centre as the area is a reserve forest. “This is likely to come in by next month. It will take around 10 months for the safari to start once clearances are through,” claimed the official. The animal rescue and rehab centre—among India’s largest–has already started operations.”We are falling short of time. The state government had asked us to complete the work in four years but one year has already been consumed,” the official lamented.”Response from private partners in the PPP route was negligible. So, the government will construct the project through its own kitty in phases based on availability of funds,” he added.”Such projects are not financially viable for private partners due to an element of risk. Footfalls peak may peak immediately after inauguration but may decline or stabilize later,” he explained, adding that a tender for selection of a joint venture partner for the zoo had met with poor response.The zoo will come up on around 650 hectare land with the rest housing the Gorewada reserve and rescue centre.
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