MCI officials to submit report on Zoo before IHC on Friday

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Frequent deaths of animals, absence of proper facilities in Marghazar Zoo
Zubair Qureshi

Senior officials of the Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) are facing a show-cause notice issued by the Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Athar Minallah for poor conditions in which Islamabad Zoo’s (Marghazar Zoo) animals are being kept.Justice Minallah while hearing a petition against the poor state of animals at the zoo put a director and deputy director of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) on show-cause notice for not looking after the Marghazar Zoo.Earlier, on June 25, the court had directed the MCI to hand over management of the zoo to the Ministry of Climate Change. The court also took notice of the lack of implementation of its orders on Aug 16.When Justice Minallah resumed hearing the petition on Monday, the climate change ministry informed the court that the MCI did not allocate funding for the animals’ feed.To this Justice Minallah remarked if the government could not afford to nurture the animals, it should send them to sanctuaries.He expressed displeasure over palatial homes on otherwise protected land in Banigala and Shah Allah Ditta meant for animal sanctuaries. He remarked that elite persons of Islamabad had turned animal sanctuaries into luxury residences and virtually destroyed Islamabad’s master plan.Several notable individuals including Prime Minister Imran Khan reside in Banigala.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah observed that it has proved that Islamabad Zoo is not meeting the standards set for a zoo internationally. Justice Athar Minallah said that they intend to bring three more elephants while even not properly taking care of a lone elephant in the zoo.
Addressing the zoo officials, the chief justice said if you people could not facilitate the elephant send it back to Sri Lanka. Deputy Director of the ministry said that a PC-I was forwarded to the planning commission for improving the conditions in Islamabad zoo to the international standard but the proposal was rejected. The officials said that none of Pakistani zoo including the zoological gardens at Karachi and Lahore meet international standards.
A director of the climate change ministry informed the court that there were two separate accounts for zoo staff’s salaries and animals’ feed. He said the MCI has only released funds for the salaries so far in this fiscal year. Since contractors were not paid, they stopped supplying feed to the zoo management. During the hearing on June 25, the IHC had directed the climate change secretary to take control of the zoo. The court passed these directions on a petition filed by the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) against the lack of facilities for zoo animals.
The IWMB drew the court’s attention to a report from the World Wildlife Federation Pakistan and said that a marsh crocodile was being kept in deplorable condition at the zoo and, according to experts, may not survive if the zoo’s environment is not improved.