Nagpur: The stalled Gorewada project shows signs of revival at last. It was planned as a grand project which was to have India’s first Night Safari of international standards. ( Many Nagpurians are likely to have visited Singapore and been to the Night Safari there which is now one of the main attractions of Singapore city-country and earns it a very attractive revenue.)
The zoo, which is to come up on 1,914-hectare plot will enable people to view animals in their natural habitats and boost eco-tourism, was first proposed in 2005 and is long-pending. In 2011, the project, to be developed on public-private partnership (PPP) basis, was handed over to the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM), Nagpur. All necessary permissions were obtained.
It was also supposed to tell the story of human evolution as a Human Development trail. A lot of veterinary activity was going to be involved as Central India has good forest cover with lots of flora and fauna and injured and/ or endangered animals were going to be shifted here for treatment and safety.
Though planned over a decade ago, not much was achieved by way of implementation till the present C.M. Fadnavis took reins of government. He made it his pet project for the city.
Speaking about it to the media, Mungantiwar cabinet Minister for Finance and Forests had said “This will be an ideal place for a family outing.”
Gorewada lake is a haven for many resident and migratory bird species. According to officials, quality tourist attractions like a butterfly park, African safari, bird park and a bio park were to be set up, apart from a rail tour and a wildlife museum as per plans made. Walking tracks and tribal village trails would give tourists an authentic experience.
Stating that there would be no paucity of funds, the minister had said some elements would have to be funded using viability gap funding (VGF). “We have already received approvals from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for our masterplan and master concept plan,” AK Nigam, managing director, FDCM had declared. The project, which has an estimated cost of Rs 452 crore, was to be developed in six years’ time, he said adding the government wants the time to be brought down.
It was to be a Joint Venture with 49% investment coming in from private players and 51% to be retained with the state government. The project cost was estimated to be Rs. 452 crores.
After such grand planning the e tender was floated requesting bids from Companies for the project. Much to the government’s embarrassment there were no bids at all!
This led to much criticism also with critics having a field day.
Later, discussions were held with some companies who laid down conditions for more flexibility in the lease deeds.
This was followed by the Essel group based in Mumbai making a visit to Nagpur to survey the Gorewada area.
Sources say they spent the whole day going around the proposed area of the park which according to latest plans is supposed to have a Jungle safari and a Cycle Safari also.
The Essel team consisted of their Managing Director and other senior officers. Senior officials of FDCM like S.A. Yadav and Suresh Gairola were also present.
Everyone knows Essel world specializes in entertainment parks, whether it has the experience and expertise to handle a zoo of this magnitude has to be seen.