The Telegraph
Saturday , December 28 , 2013
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Birsa zoo learns lake lessons

A safe New Year is a happy New Year.

Taking timely cue from the Ranchi Lake tragedy that claimed four lives, Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park on capital outskirts has decided to offer New Year revellers a safe boating experience by revamping its vessels, procuring extra life vests and deploying divers.

Wearing life jackets has been made compulsory for every visitor on board a boat.

To meet the demands of the New Year rush, zoo officials have confirmed the management would procure over a dozen new life jackets in the next couple of days and was getting each of its 10 pedal boats checks for technical snags, if any.

“Most visitors who opt for boating avoid wearing life jackets. It’s a bit like people refusing to wear helmets. But now, after the Ranchi Lake tragedy, the zoo management has given standing instructions not to entertain anyone who refuses a life jacket. To add to our preparedness, we will procure some 15-16 jackets keeping the January 1 rush in mind,” a zoo official said, adding they charged Rs 45 and Rs 25 for a 15-minute boating spin on four and two seater boats, respectively.

Zoo director A.K. Patra said apart from extra life jackets, boats — two and four seater ones — were being checked for safety.

Also, in a vital step to prevent mishap in case someone falls into the water, two guards, adept at swimming, have been deputed.

“We asked the two guards, who are casual staffers, to keep vigil on boats and people. Our lake is not too deep, only five or six feet, but still we are taking all possible steps for safety,” Patra said.

Zoo vet Ajay Kumar added they were keeping their gates open on December 30, a Monday. “The zoo remains closed on this day but we are keeping it open for New Year revellers,” he said.

Entry rates have also been revised to cash in on the New Year rush from December 31 to January 2.

“Entry tickets will be up by Rs 10 both for adults and children on three days starting December 31. Adults will have to pay Rs 30 each, while the fee for each child is Rs 20,” Kumar said.

On January 1, 2013, the zoo minted over Rs 3 lakh.

“The single day’s earnings were very encouraging. This year, park officials are hoping to generate revenues a minimum of over Rs 10-12 lakh across three days,” Kumar said.

But with footfall comes the risk of vandalism. Last year, rowdy crowds damaged many lights and seats.

This year, zoo officials said they had requested deployment of special police force.

“A magistrate will be on deputation with 11 police personnel outside the zoo. This apart, we will have around 22-24 guards of our own to keep a watch on everyone and prevent vandalism,” Kumar said.

Have you put on life vests while boating on Birsa zoo lake?


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