Is Bengaluru falling prey to the gau rakshaks? The BBMP’s latest diktat after a court ruling is to ban illegal slaughterhouses, saying animals can only be butchered at the three licensed abattoirs at K.R. Market, Tannery Road and Pottery Road. The three abattoirs can handle around 800 slaughters a day, a mere trifling in a city that consumes over 10 times that amount. This means meat sellers will be forced to sell frozen meat, a crying shame in a city like Bengaluru, which is celebrated for its cosmopolitan, world-class cuisine. The BBMP, instead of establishing slaughterhouses, conducting checks at the shops and issuing licenses, has raided stalls and destroyed the meat. The move has resulted in a shortage of meat, a price rise and put a sizeable number of jobs at risk in potentially volatile neighbourhoods. The Palike needs to act more responsibly, reports Aknisree Karthik
In a city that sees between 8000 and 10,000 animals slaughtered every day for their meat, the BBMP's sudden decision to stop local butchers from slaughtering animals at their stalls is expected to push up the price of meat and result in a possible shortage. Is Bengaluru ready for either?
The butchers paint a horrific scenario of what is in store following the BBMP’s diktat that all slaughtering of animals must be done at its three abattoirs in K R Market, Pottery Town and Tannery Road.
Says a meat shop owner near Byatarayanapura on Mysore Road, "This is a foolish move. For a city with a population of over one crore, how can only three slaughterhouses suffice? On an average, we slaughter three sheep (around five to eight on Sundays). Our day starts at around 5 am when we slaughter the animal, peel off its skin, clean the needed parts and have the meat ready for sale at 7 am. But now that the BBMP wants slaughtering to be done at its slaughterhouses, we will have to take the animals to them and stand in a long queue as there are only three and they cannot handle the rush.”
Even worse, he warns they may now be forced to sell refrigerated meat. “At present we never sell stale meat and maintain the necessary hygiene. We slaughter the animal and sell its meat the same day and slaughter more animals if neccessary. But with the BBMP's move, we will be forced to refrigerate the meat and sell it even if it is two or three days old,” he laments.
Besides possibly being forced to buy stale meat, consumers may in future have to pay more for it as well, according to him. “If we are expected to take our animals to the abattoirs, we will have no option but to charge our customers extra for the transportation cost involved,” he adds helplessly.
Mr G K Iqbal, secretary of the Mutton Merchants Association, is unhappy that despite the BBMP’s promise to build more slaughterhouses in the city, it still has only three. "For the past many years we have been told that model slaughterhouses will be built across the city. But till date nothing has been done and we still have only three abattoirs for the entire city,” he points out.
Noting that on an average over 2,000 goats and sheep are slaughtered in the city on week days and even more on Sundays. he says the three abattoirs can handle merely 800 slaughters and even then only if they are carried out without a beak. “In my view every area like K R Puram, Magadi Road, Yelahanka, Yeshwanthpur and Rajajinagar should have model slaughterhouses,” he emphasises, also suggesting that the BBMP should have a vehicle to collect the waste and penalise the shops that simply throw it away.
Denying that the city’s butchers are not hygienic, he says “Let the BBMP officials inspect the mutton shops and penalise those who are not hygienic and sell stale meat. We too are concerned about hygiene. Just because one or two may have erred it is wrong to impose a blanket ban on slaughtering animals locally."
Clarifying that the meat vendors would not mind taking the animals to BBMP slaughterhouses if there were more of them, he adds, "We want the BBMP to quickly call for a meeting and resolve this issue. Otherwise our traders will have no option but to ignore its new rule and continue their business like always.”
bbmp raids 200 shops, destroys meat in stalls without licenses
Ask Mayor Sampath Raj about the BBMP’s sudden crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses in the city and he says it is acting on the orders of the High Court. While its true that the Gou Gyan Foundation, a non-profitable organisation established by like-minded young professionals, had filed a petition in court last year on the issue, its plea was only against illegal slaughtering of cows and had nothing to say against mutton shops.
But the civic body has gone overboard and is acting against all meat shops in the city, raiding over 200 and issuing notices to all of them. It also sprayed phenyl over the meat of animals, which didn't have the seal of approval from the BBMP's own abattoirs.
It was in January that the civic body issued a public notice saying that only meat bearing its abattoirs’ seal and a certificate could be sold in shops. It warned that selling of meat without the official seal would attract a criminal case and prosecution under section 429 of the Indian Penal Code.
Justifying the move, an official of the BBMP’s animal husbandry wing claims that hundreds of animals are illegally slaughtered at the meat shops in unhygienic conditions. “People will not eat the meat if they saw how the animals are slaughtered. Besides letting the blood run into drains, other waste is illegally dumped in storm water drains although the shops are expected to hand over the animal waste to the authorised BBMP garbage contractors,” he says.
The BBMP's reasoning may be right, but it has clearly not thought the issue out and in the process could the city's meat eaters suffer?
We will establish slaughterhouses in all 8 bbmp zones: Sampath Raj
Why has the BBMP begun the sudden crackdown on slaughterhouses?
Mayor: We are only acting on the high court order on closure of illegal slaughterhouses.
But shouldn’t the crackdown have begun after the construction of an adequate number of slaughterhouses in the city as it has only three at present?
Mayor: Yes, ideally we should have conducted the drive after the construction of sufficient slaughterhouses across the city. But a foundation has filed a contempt petition before the high court contending that illegal slaughterhouses continue to function in the city. So we had to act quickly. We will soon establish slaughterhouses in all eight BBMP zones after discussion with the animal husbandry department.
The sudden crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses could lead to a steep increase in meat price and a shortage of meat.
Mayor: Yes, we are aware of this and I have already started to look at what can be done to avoid a shortage of meat in the city. I intend to call a meeting this week with meat vendors and officials of the animal husbandry department to figure out a possible solution.