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Kabul Municipality orders zoo shifting in violation to urban expansion plan

Kabul Municipality orders zoo shifting in violation to urban expansion plan

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24 May 2021 - 10:22
Kabul Municipality orders zoo shifting in violation to urban expansion plan
author avatar
24 May 2021 - 10:22

KABUL (Pajhwok): The Kabul Municipality is working on a plan to shift the Kabul Zoo from its existing location to the Kart-e-Naw Tapa area but some sources term the move as unfair due to the history of the current location and other relevant issues.

The Kabul Zoo was opened back in 1967 in the Dehmazang Square area in the limits of third Police District of capital Kabul.

The zoo was considered one of the best wild animal places in the region but during civil war the site was demolished and later rehabilitated with the financial support of international institutions and organization and extended up to Pul-i-Arton. The Kabul Zoo has membership of Zoo Cooperation Organisation of South Asia.

According to Kabul Municipality, currently around 600 animals of different species, birds, fishes, insects exist and are looked after in the zoo.

According to another source, the Kabul Zoo is financially independent with around 33 million revenue annually, it is spread on 17.5 acres of land. The zoo has 53.5 acres more land allocated for its expansion till the Guzargah Bridge; the expansion plan is registered with the Wild Life Organisation.

Now the Kabul Municipality plans to shift the Kabul Zoo to the Kart-i-Now Tapa situated in the limits of  8th and 22nd police districts of Kabul City.

The municipality in its Facebook page on April 25 wrote: “Kabul Municipality plans to arrange and implement development plans, economic corridors in the main parts of the city. In order to arrange an operational plan such as the design of a new zoo on the top of Bagrami— Kart-i-Naw Tapa and to arrange a development plan for economic progress and to create large recreational and green places at the top of Karte-i-NawTapa and other major parts of the city, municipality officials visited the site.”

The transfer of zoo is not part of urban plan:

Roshan Walasmal, secretary Urban Affairs Ministry, said the transfer of Kabul Zoo from Dehmazang to Kar-i-Naw is not part of the ministry’s urban development plan.

Meanwhile, a copy of a letter from Kabul Municipality Directorate of Orders Issuance and follow up showed that Kabul Mayor on December 27/2020 issued orders of the transfer of Kabul Zoo to Kart-i-Naw Tapa.

Earlier, on December 26/2020, Kabul Mayor signed plan for the construction of new Municipality building in the area existing zoo.

Kabul Municipality Spokesperson Sameera Rasa was asked to share the strategy of zoo shifting with Pajhwok Afghan News, she pledged to hand them over but on May 04 when she was asked for sharing plan she said: “This plan is still in the initial stage and we are told not to discuss it, when the plan is completed it will be shared with the media.”

Mohammad Khalid Yousufzai, head of the municipality planning execution, said: “The plan is with us and after the direction of mayor it would be shared with you.”

Pajhwok tried to contact Yousufzai again but he did not respond.

But NiamatullahBarakzai, municipality broadcasting head, said Kabul Zoo will be shifted to Karte-i-Naw Tapa from existing location and work on the strategy was underway which will be completed in coming months and shared with the media upon its completion.

A municipality employee in a video clip said: “The zoo area is located in the Dehmazang Square and at the corner of Darulaman corridor. This is a potential spot for future development activities. This place after its development may be converted to the centre of Kabul Municipality.”

Pajhwok sought information about the Kabul Zoo from Aziz Gul Saqib, the director of the Kabul Zoo, agreed to provide information about the current situation based on coordination with municipality spokesman’s office, but did not know about the zoo transfer plan.

Zoo should not be shifted:

Ghulam Mohammad Malikyar, a former professional secretary of Environmental Authority said the existing location of the zoo was not suitable due to massive traffic in the area and lack of standards required for a zoo but there is no alternative as well to shift it to another place.

This place is has gained central importance and people from most areas of Kabul have access to it.

He added: “The transfer of Zoo to new place may result in the loss of some sensitive animals. It is worth mentioning that animals brought from wild life to zoo changes their behavior and get familiar with the new environment and people while by changing the place they may face isolation and finally die.”

Without going into detail of its legal aspect, Malakyar said zoos in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and other countries were situated in the centre of their great cities adding that some years back a zoo in charge in Mumbai was sentenced to three years in jail over unfair transfer of zoo animals.

JalaluddinNaseri, an official of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), said the municipality has not informed them regarding the transfer of zoo but added the existing zoo is being expanded.

He said the current zoo has a history besides being a place for entertainment and research. He stressed the need for coordination with EPA, Ministry of Culture, Kabul University and other relevant authorities regarding to its transfer.

He said an international law regarding the transfer of animal to another place says that suitable environment should be created for the animals before their transfer.

Mohammad Kazim Humayoun, director of environment, said: “Unfortunately, we have not been coordinated so far in this regard. I saw the area, the Ministry of Agriculture had planted saplings several times, but as the water in that area is salty, all the saplings dried up, an area having water and appropriate environment should be provided to wildlife.”

Sabir Momand, a spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Information, also said the municipality had not yet informed the ministry about the plan.

He added whenever the municipality provided information, the ministry’s water team would visit the area and after examining the historical dimension, they would make a decision on whether or not to move the zoo and then share it with the Kabul municipality.

The Kabul zoo was established during king Mohammad Zahir Shah era.

Mustafa Zahir, a member of Meshrano Jirga and grandson of Mohammad Zahir Shah, told Pajhwok that four months ago he learned that the zoo would be moved to the Kart-i-Naw area.

According to him, the area designated for the Kabul zoo in Kart-i-Naw is not a suitable location for the zoo.

“The water in the Bagrami area or the Kart-i-Naw hill is salty and definitely not an appropriate place for wildlife, I’m hundred percent against the transfer of the zoo from the current area. The mayor and the people around him are not animal specialists. I have seen that area and the unique animals of the zoo would probably perish during the transfer,” he explained.

He said he had also shared his concern with the Presidential Palace in a letter; but so far he received no answer.

Zahir added: “The Kabul zoo is currently self-sufficient, as far as I know if it is accurate or not, the mayor of Kabul want to move the zoo and build houses in its place, if the mayor of Kabul does that, neither we nor the people of Kabul will sit silent.”

Abdul Wali Mudaqiq, former deputy director of the environment protection department, said: “in the current situation, I do not think we will be in a position to establish a new zoo because there is no technical capacity in government offices and the process is very costly.”

He added such projects needed coordination with the environment authority before their start, which did not happen.

He said: “The Kart-i-Naw hill does not have the necessary conditions for a zoo. The area has previously been used by the Kabul municipality as solid waste disposal site for several years so the soil of the area is completely polluted and no action has been taken to clean it.”

“And the area is located near the industrial park called Juma Mohammad Mohammadi, where in general there is air pollution, noise, water pollution, soil pollution and it is a residential area.”

According to him, another concern is that during the transfer of animals, the necessary conditions may not be provided and a number of animals may be killed.

Modaqiq added: “The impression is that the municipality is facing a land problem, and the current area (the zoo) is a very large area where the municipality may have other programs, such as business and building houses, if the municipality has the plan to turn the Dehmazan area into a residential area it will be inappropriate work based on environment.”

He added the Kabul zoo is a member of the South Asian Zoo Cooperation Organization and it may lose the membership if the international agencies were not notified.

Allocated area belongs to Ministry of Public Health:

Another problem is that the area designated in the Kart-i-Naw for the zoo is belonging to the MoPH. The site of the Bagrami is dedicated to the construction of hospitals.

The MoPH in a letter to the Presidential Palace on December 14, 2020 said that on March 20, 2019, the cabinet allocated 249 acres of government land located on Ahmad Khan hill in the Bagrami district of Kabul [where the zoo is to be relocated] for building two hospitals (200-bed for cancer and 400-bed complex).

The letter reads that the Kabul municipality on November 8, 2020m said in a letter: “in a decree NO 4195 on November 23,2002 said: green areas in all provinces and the capital, cannot be modified or distributed for the construction of residential houses and other buildings.”

At the time the Public Health Ministry wrote: “While almost 17 years have passed since this decree and the construction of the hospital in the current situation should be given priority; but the municipality is not providing the land to the ministry so that it can take urgent action for construction of the hospital, according to its strategic plan and program.””

Ghulam Dastagir Nazari, spokesman for MoPH, said after the letter, representatives of municipality met with representatives of the Presidential Administrative Affairs office and decided that a new proposal would be presented to the President.

According to him, the MoPH will act under the direction of the president.


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