SGNP renovation stalls after MoU with Belgian government gets delayed

The Belgium consulate chose SGNP out of four global urban forests in the world due to its prime position in the city


Plans of revamping Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) including the mini zoological park, leopards safari, and other projects have been stalled due to the technical difficulties and pending clarifications from both the governments i.e. Belgian and the state government of Maharashtra.

Why has the project stalled?

As per the Hindustan Times report, in the month of July 2017, the Belgian consulate came up with a proposal of remodelling, providing state-of-the-art technologies and carrying out research work to conserve the rich biodiversity of SGNP. Both the government decided to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) before the beginning of the project but certain terms and conditions could not be finalised.

What was the project?

In the month of February, Belgium’s consul general Peter Huyghebert visited the park and decided to go ahead with the conservation project.

It is being said that Belgium government wants to replicate their Antwerp Zoo which will incorporate a mini zoo towards the Borivali end of the park and the leopard safari. In addition to this, there will be breeding centres and care research hubs for animals. The Antwerp Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world which was opened in 1843 and has 5,000 animals from 950 species in its 10.5 hectares. It is also listed as a monument, with eight buildings housing animals and it has a research centre for conservation of endangered species.

SGNP is the chosen one

Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that the consulate chose SGNP out of four global urban forests in the world as it is a unique national park located on the periphery of a city.

As Mungantiwar told to Hindustan Times, 

The idea is to revamp SGNP and Gorewada Zoo in Nagpur to make them at par with international standards. Signing any MoU with another country entails legal hurdles as well. We are working in tandem with them on all these parameters. As of now, the Belgians will fund 75% of the project and the state forest department will pitch in the rest. However, we want them to fund the entire project since they have chosen this location for their research. Technicalities regarding the same are still being discussed.”