VISAKHAPATNAM:Opposition to the proposal to shift the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park from its present location has reached a crescendo as prominent citizens and voluntary organisations, including the youngsters, are gearing up to launch a major agitation. The idea mooted by HRD minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao is finding no takers with different organisations joining hands to build support to protect the ecological balance of Visakhapatnam.
Members of NGO ‘People for India’ (PFI) in a news conference here Thursday, condemned the proposal. Mentioning the importance of the zoo, former Andhra University vice- chancellor and PFI chairperson KV Ramana said that the zoo was one of the major attractions for thousands of domestic and national tourists. Recalling the number of people who visit the zoo park during the month of Karthik for picnic, Ramana said that it was also the best place for city students to learn about environment. Ramana also said that it was one of the best and largest zoos with 650 acres of natural habitat for animals. Disturbing it will not only affect the ecological balance but will also harm the animals.
PFI convenor BB Ganesh said that shifting of the zoo would not be right in the bid to make the city a tourism hub. He also recalled the agitations launched against the government when the latter tried to poke its nose on lands of public library and former central jail area near the RTC Complex. Members of Lok Satta, BSNL Employees Union, LIC Employees Union and the residential welfare association extended their support to the agitations to be taken up against shifting of the zoo. The members also said that they were not against the development and development of botanical gardens, but interfering with the zoo lands is not the way. They also said that they would start a signature campaign.
Meanwhile, the CPM staged a massive protest before the collectorate here Thursday morning. They alleged that with the zoo being in the city limits, the government was planning to make business out of it by shifting it somewhere. “We won’t stop our agitations till the government drops its plan,” the agitators added.
India Youth For Society (IYFS) has taken part in a roadshow a couple of days back and wrote postcards to the Chairman, Zoo Authority of Andhra Pradesh, the Chief Conservator, Forests & Environment, AP, the ministers for Forests and Tourism against shifting of the zoo.
Campaign in Social Media
Pages and posts are being created in the social networking sites with people expressing their love for the zoo and displeasure over the government’s decision. Besides NGOs, people are posting updates expressing ‘no’ to the zoo shifting. Mother Earth Environmental Consciousness Society (MEECONS) has come up with an activity requesting the candidates who oppose the zoo shifting, to post their profile pictures against the background of a frame “Don’t Shift Zoo”.
Meecons president S Ravi Kanth Reddy said that the major concern was wildlife. He said that the government instead of developing the existing and well settled place, was trying to shift the zoo. “The botanical gardens could be developed somewhere else as the zoo is a natural one. Moreover, shifting the zoo could increase man-animal conflicts”, he added. The NGO also decided to come up with various activities through online, initially to gather support and further to take the issue to people’s representatives.