The Fisheries department, which manages the 30-year-old facility, says that the lack of novelty is due to factors like financial crunch and hurdles to the expansion plan. Adding exotic fish varieties is beyond the department’s budget.
The department fears that taking up expansion work would be in violation of the Karnataka Government Parks (Preservation) Act, 1975, as the aquarium is situated in Cubbon Park.
Sources said that ever since the octagon-shaped building was inaugurated in 1983, it has not seen a makeover.
“As per the Act, the building cannot be expanded or its height raised as it is inside the government park. We can renovate only the inside of the structure. We thought of roping in an architect to redesign the building. However, the idea was dropped. Implementing it would mean huge investment and hurdles in the form of restrictions by the government,” said an official from the department.
H N Veerappa Gowda, director in the Directorate of Fisheries, said they would chalk out expansion plans if the Act was to be relaxed in their case. Private firms may be roped in to make the aquarium more appealing.
The Fisheries department is planning to increase the varieties of fishes, bringing in rare breeds. Presently, the aquarium has 78 fish tanks, each with more than 70 different species of tropical fresh water fish such as gold fish, fresh water sharks and angel fish. Each fish was procured at a cost of Rs 50 to Rs 3,000. The fish are sourced from Chennai and their rates depend on the season.
“When the fish die or when new tanks are set up, we procure fresh ones. We do not have rare species as their prices are beyond Rs 3,000. We get around 200 to 300 visitors per day and the number increases to 500 during holidays,” a curator at the aquarium told Deccan Herald.
Meanwhile, the aquarium staff have written to the Horticulture department, requesting them to re-open the aquarium building on the Lalbagh premises. It was closed down a few years ago as the structure was weak.
Entrance fee hike
The authorities are planning to hike the entrance fee to the aquarium and they would soon seek the government’s approval for it. “The entrance fee has remained unchanged for the past 10 years. The proposal is to hike the entry fee for adults to Rs 10 from Rs five and for children to Rs five from Rs two.”