Ballari: Karnataka's biggest zoo, named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, now coming up near the world heritage site,Hampi, is all set to open its gates to visitors by June.
As a supplement to the monuments of architectural excellence in the UNESCO world heritage site, the tourists visiting Hampi would soon get to see various species of fauna at a zoo coming up on the periphery of the erstwhile capital of Vijayanagar Empire.
The construction work is almost nearing completion at the zoological park named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, coming up at Kamlapur near Hampi Kannada University in the district.
Mr Nagaraj Naik, Executive Director of the Zoological Park told Deccan Chronicle that the park is expected to emerge as an added attraction for tourists offering tiger, bear and deer safari for tourists and will be open to public for viewing by June.
Mr Naik who is involved in the project from the beginning, said the Zoo Authority of Karnataka is undertaking the project on 500 acres of land at a cost of Rs 34 crore. Already works costing about Rs 20 crore have been completed and the remaining works estimated to cost Rs 14 crore are yet to be completed.
The roads are being constructed in the precincts of the zoo for tiger, bear and deer safaris. Three large ponds are being built to help the animals housed in the zoo to walk around freely. Check dams are constructed at five different places in the zoo to cater to drinking water needs of the animals and also to enhance the water table in the region. The bunds have been built using stone slabs to prevent erosion.
A barbed-wire fencing is erected at a height of 12-ft across the 7 km stretch around the zoo. The construction work for separate enclosures with a pond for animals is underway. So is the work on watch towers, staff quarters, ticket counters and food outlets for tourists.
The proposed zoo was planned by the then BJP government in 2010 after the Yeddyurappa government decided to shift Ballari zoo to Bilikallu reserve forest. Meanwhile, environmentalists expressed their concern over the proposed zoo coming up in the Bilikallu reserve forests which houses several rare species of animals and reptiles.
Mr Naik stated that the Central Zoo Authority had given its approval for the said project and it’s not as if the entire flora and fauna in the Billikallu forest would get destroyed.
“Modern zoos are very sensitive to ecological issues, we ensured that very little clearing of forests is carried out”, he added. Fears of captive animals spreading diseases among those in the wild are unfounded as all inmates will carry a proper medical certificate after extensive check-ups before they are brought to the zoo. “The standard practice is that we don’t move sick animals,” he added.