Delhi meat traders seek govt help as Ghazipur abattoir shut for 22 days

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With Delhi’s only legal slaughterhouse at Ghazipur staying shut for 22 days, the meat traders have approached the Delhi Minorities Commission to protect their livelihood, Mohammad Arshad Qureshi, the president of Delhi meat merchant association, said on Tuesday.

He added that similar petitions have also been submitted to the lieutenant governor, the municipal commissioner, the food and civil supplies department and the Union home ministry.

The facility, which is managed by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, was shut down on May 30 after the Delhi Pollution Control Committee withdrew its “consent to operate” over violations related to use of non-sanctioned borewells for extracting groundwater and non-utilization of treated water.

“Ghazipur slaughterhouse is the only slaughterhouse in the city, and it serves almost 70% of Delhi’s non-vegetarian population. We do not know any other business and we are badly dependent on this facility. Our livelihood is at stake because we don’t have any other source of income,” the petition by meat traders said. The petition added that farmers who supply the animals to the abattoir are also affected by the closure.

Irshad Qureshi, general secretary of the meat merchants union, said that allied businesses involving animal hide, offal, poultry feed supplements, horn hooves, animal fat may also be impacted due to the closure of the slaughterhouse.

He added that there may not be an immediate escalation in prices of meat in the Capital since the demand for buffalo meat stays low in the prevailing weather, and added that the mutton demand may also come down with the festival of Id-ul-Zuha to be celebrated on July 10. “But, if situation continues to drag like this, it may lead to a major crisis. Isn’t it indirectly encouraging illegal slaughter?. Meat is also being sourced from other states but the fines and harassment has increased,” he added.

In an order on May 13, the National Green Tribunal asked the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to certify whether the slaughterhouse was running in accordance with environmental norms. The DPCC shut down the facility over violations of illegal use of groundwater.

Before this, the slaughterhouse stayed shut for more than 100 days in 2020 in the wake of a lockdown imposed to curb the spread of Covid pandemic.

Ghazipur slaughterhouse is the only legal abattoir in the city where goat, sheep and buffaloes are slaughtered for meeting domestic demand of meat. The facility, built at a cost of 150 crore by the MCD, became operational in 2009. It has three slaughter halls — one for large animals and two for small animals.

While poultry slaughter is allowed in several places in the city, goats, lambs and buffaloes can only be butchered at the Ghazipur slaughterhouse, located on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border. It has a capacity to operate in three shifts with two shifts reserved to meet domestic consumption. Each shift handles about 4,500 sheep/goats and 500 buffaloes.

Gulfam Qureshi, who heads the local livestock market in Ghazipur, said that the traders were shifted from Idgah in north-central Delhi to the site in 2009. “Have they only found deficiencies after 10-11 years? How can a decision affecting livelihoods of thousands of people can be taken in a huff. Authorities should have thought about the impact of the decision and a conditional operation permission could have been granted. Traders will be forced to protest as no one is listening to us,” he said. He added that temporary permission for slaughtering outside the facility should be allowed.

An MCD veterinary department official said that the reopening of the facility depends on the National Green Tribunal’s approval. “DPCC had withdrawn the permission to run the slaughterhouse based on the NGT order. We have submitted a review petition with the green tribunal and stated that the conditions mentioned by the DPCC have been met and the consent to operate (CTO) should be granted. Vacations are going on and a solution depends on when the matter is listed before the tribunal,” the official said.

MCD had also filed a writ petition against the DPCC’s revocation of consent but on June 3, a local court declined to grant any relief to the civic body. The court said that the MCD has to approach the Supreme Court if it wants to challenge the NGT order.

A senior DPCC official said the MCD was yet to conform to their directions to procure the consent to operate. However, following a review petition filed by the MCD before the NGT, further directions are awaited. “From our side, there has been no change in the status and until the MCD conforms to all the rules laid down in order to get the CTO, we will not award it to them,” the official said.