By Sumita Sarkar
Security for the 40-odd peacocks at the Maharashtra Engineering Research Institute (MERI) here has been delayed by six more months as the construction of the compound wall, which was supposed to be completed in August, is likely to be finished only in February.
The peacocks of the hydrodynamic division of MERI have been facing the threat of poaching by slum-dwellers in the 20-acre Waghadi slums nearby. The MERI employees have alleged that the slum-dwellers often hunt peacocks with slings and hack huge trees on the premises.
Until 2009, there were over 100 peacocks in the 150-acre land of MERI's hydrodynamic division. The number, however, dwindled later. After the citizens launched an initiative to save the peacocks, the MERI authorities have started constructing a compound wall to ensure protection of the peacocks.
"The number of peacocks started declining gradually since 2009," said Sunil Pote, founder of NGO Yuva Mitra. Pote had done research on the peacocks and the flora and fauna in the area with support from citizens like Jeetubhai Parekh, a hotelier. Pote had suggested that the place be declared a national park because of its natural surroundings, trees, grass, insects and birds, including peacocks.
The environment activists said, "We approached MLC Hemant Takle who facilitated our meeting with then water resources minister Ajit Pawar. We requested that a compound wall should be constructed to protect the peacocks. Pawar sanctioned Rs 80 lakh for the compound wall in February 2010. But the process for floating e-tenders began only in August 2012."
The final submission of tenders was from October 12 to October 29 and the actual work began in November 2012.
An engineer from MERI said that the tenders were invited in 2011 but no one had responded to it. "Transfers and retirement of officials also delayed the process," he added. More....