Why a waddle of penguins has put Shiv Sena in a spot ahead of BMC polls

By: |
September 09, 2021 4:09 PM

The Congress and the BJP have trained guns on the Shiv Sena-led Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the tender.

The Shiv Sena enjoys an upper hand in the BMC. (File photo)

Ahead of the crucial BMC polls, seven penguins lodged at the Byculla zoo in Mumbai have not only put the Shiv Sena in a spot with the opposition BJP, but also pitched ally Congress against it. The Shiv Sena runs a coalition government in Maharashtra in alliance with the Congress and the NCP. The Shiv Sena enjoys an upper hand in the BMC. Despite being in alliance with the Sena in the state government, the Congress has so far said that it will contest the BMC polls alone and this may have led to a fresh face-off between the two parties.

What is the fresh face-off all about?

Notably, the Byculla Zoo first got the penguins in March 2017. Since the non-flying primates need a different climate and their food habits are also different, a tender worth Rs 11.5 crore was floated a year after in 2018 for the upkeep of the birds. The contract is now coming to an end and the BMC has floated a fresh tender worth Rs 15.26 crore for upkeeping of the birts for the next 36 months. The tender comes at a time when the state is yet to completely recover from the wounds of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the third wave is expected any time in the near future.

BJP, Congress slam Shiv Sena for the tender

The Congress and the BJP have trained guns on the Shiv Sena-led Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the tender. They also questioned the Shiv Sena over the increase in the tender cost. The opposition parties also slammed the ruling Shiv Sena for failing to create an in-house management system in the last five years when the penguins were first brought to the zoo from South Korea. BJP’s Prabhakar Shinde said that at a time when the focus should be on improving the health and civic infrastructure, the BMC is ready to spend Rs 15 crore on ‘maintaining VVIP penguins’. He termed it a case of misplaced priorities. Ravi Raja of Congress said that this kind of expenditure is not justified and the corporation needs to set its priorities right.

BMC defends move

The BMC has defended the tender. BMC chief Iqbal Chahal yesterday claimed that the penguins have helped increase the zoo’s revenue collection. Iqbal said that while the zoo’s revenue stood at Rs. 2.10 crore between April 2014 and March 2017, it has increased by Rs. 12.26 crore to Rs. 14.36 crore between April 2017 and March 2020. Eight penguins were bought at the cost of Rs 45 crore in 2017 of which one had died.

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