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Posted at: Jul 16, 2017, 12:14 AM; last updated: Jul 16, 2017, 12:14 AM (IST)

Bone of contention in meat sale: No clear orders in Haryana, UP

Sumedha Sharma in Gurugram & Shahira Naim in Lucknow
When the Uttar Pradesh government cracked down on slaughter houses, Haryana was badly cut up. There were rumours about the meat industry crashing in Haryana or people fearing a major spike in meat prices. It’s been two months, and nothing much has changed. Small and big meat shops function as usual with prices being more or less the same. This ‘lack of impact’ from the evident decreased supply has raised many questions: there could be hundreds of ‘illegal’ slaughter houses being run in the state.

“Please don’t call us illegal as we are khandani kasai. All that I know is slaughtering a cow is illegal. In which city of India do you have meat being brought from swanky slaughter houses? It’s us who slaughter animals clean and sell them. I have a shop here in my village,” says ‘A’ (name withheld on request) as he walks inside his one-room slaughter house in his modest accommodation in Ferozpur Jhirka.

Two goats are tied near the room awaiting his son to come and slaughter them as part of his ‘training’ to join the family business. Quiz him about the latest guidelines and he laughs: “All this is tamasha. For centuries people have depended on us for meat and will continue to do so for years to come.” 

He says he has heard of the new guidelines: one cannot slaughter an animal in front of others , and the 12 steps of disposing of the slaughter waste. “The registration is a tedious process. If you try to stick to them, it will cost us lakhs of rupees and around five years for a shop to be legal,” he says.

This shop is among over 500 such slaughter houses situated in Mewat, Sohna, Palwal and Baadshapur. These thrive with the collusion of transporters, animal-selling agents, hotels and unlicensed retail chains. “We are regularizing the meat sale in Gurgaon. Anybody selling meat will not just have to get a licence but also display it. We have rejected many applications for non-compliance of orders. We are also formulating a mechanism to crack down on these home-operated slaughter houses,” says Gurgaon MC Commissioner V Umashankar. 

As the Gurgaon civic body claims to have already started the process by acquiring land in Rozka Meo, the stakeholders wonder what happened to the 2014 plan of the state government to open a multistory slaughter house. For the record, the plan was shelved after persistent resistance from residents of Sector 37 where the proposed abattoir was to come up.

Meanwhile in UP…

Lucknow: Rehana (50) of Purqazi in Muzaffarnagar did not cook the traditional mutton pulao for Eid. “The lynching of Junaid over meat just a few days ago had scared me so much that I did not want to send to get mutton.”  Similarly, Sara in Lucknow had to limit the non-veg dishes. Her neighbourhood meat shop offered only one-and-a-half kg of mutton and two chickens per customer. For the first time she stood in a queue to get her share of mutton and chicken paying much higher rates for both.

The situation is more or less the same everywhere in the state: supplies have shrunk and prices have skyrocketed.

According to Shahabuddin Qureshi, president of the Qureshi Welfare Foundation (the association of meat shop owners of UP), the daily demand in Lucknow is about 2.5 tons or about 25 quintals of mutton. But only one ton or 10 quintals is available. 

Immediately after the ban around March 23 the famous Tunday Kebabi was severely hit. Their oldest joint in Chowk serving only buffalo kebabs temporarily closed down. It reopened in a few days serving chicken kebabs which didn’t taste anything like the ‘original’ and cost double than the previous rates. This is despite the High Court rapping the state government in two interim orders. Various meat sellers and exporters associations have gone to court challenging the state government’s decision. Despite the court’s interim orders, not a single licence has been renewed, says Lucknow’s designated officer of the Department of Food Safety and Drug Administration, Dr Shashi Pandey. “How can we renew the licence when they do not fulfill the basic requirement of operating out of slaughter houses,” says Dr Pandey.

She admits that even a city like Lucknow has no legal slaughter house after the only one under the municipal corporation closed down under orders of the National Green Tribunal.

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