Six years on, Zoo remains dug up


The renovation and development work started six years ago at the Lahore Zoo is still far from completion — thanks to the apathy of the Communication and Works (C&W) Department. The work involves 27 projects and so far only 40 percent of work has been completed. Sources say the construction cost has increased by 60 percent since 2005 and the work might not be completed before 2013.
Sources said in 2005, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, the chief minister of Punjab at that time had ordered the renovation of Lahore Zoo along modern lines. The Planning and Development (P&D) Department had approved Planning and Commission-1 (PC-1) designed by a renowned private architect firm. After that, the P&D Department approved Rs 202 million for renovation work.
But after nine months, the project design was changed and the contractor abandoned the work. In 2006, development work started again and one-year deadline was given to the C&W Department. A Lahore Zoo senior official, requesting anonymity, told Pakistan Today that the former forests secretary had closed down the development work.
During the last three and a half years, the Punjab government gave at least seven deadlines for the completion of work. Recently Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmaker Hamza Shahbaz also took notice of the issue.
The official said the Punjab government in 2010 asked all the provincial departments to reduce their development budget in the wake of floods. This led to slashing the zoo project budged to Rs 145 million. He said the P&D Department instead of issuing the entire grant C&W Department had been releasing amounts in small instalments, which created hurdles in the completion of work.
Had the Planning and Development (P&D) department given the direct grant to the Lahore Zoo administration, all developments works would have been completed in time, he added.
Lahore Zoo Director Dr Zahid Iqbal, when contacted, admitted the Punjab government had given another deadline until June 2012 but only 40 percent of work had been completed.