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Ordered to move slaughterhouse, Madhya Pradesh struggles to find new address

Along with hundreds of meat traders, Sagir had tried to storm the NGT premises on August 30 and 31 when the tribunal was to decide whether the slaughterhouse should remain.

Written by Milind Ghatwai | Bhopal |
September 27, 2016 2:37:25 am
slaughter house, beef ban, meat ban, bhopla, meat ban, madhya pradesh meat ban, cow meat, slaughterhouse closed, mp slaughterhouse, shivraj singh chouhan, cow politics, ngt, indian express news, india news, meat ban updates Untreated waste goes into nullah next to slaughterhouse, alleges petition.

Waiting for customers for his buffaloes, Shakeel Qureshi wonders what has changed in the last few months that Bhopal’s only slaughterhouse must suddenly vanish from sight after having run for decades without causing anyone any bother.

Qureshi, 45, is among thousands of people who source their livelihood directly or indirectly from the slaughterhouse. It would have shut for good on August 31 but got an extended lease of life for 18 months from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which was acting on a petition seeking closure on the ground that untreated waste from the slaughterhouse was being discharged into a nullah, leading to pollution.

“Where” a new, modern slaughterhouse will need to come up is a question weighing heavy on the minds of bureaucrats and officials of the MP government and Bhopal Municipal Corporation. Each time a new location has been suggested, one BJP MLA or the other has scuttled the plan on the argument that the local population is vegetarian.

“Many Hindus are non-vegetarian but say they cannot bear the sight of fresh meat and blood. We respect the sentiment that they don’t want a slaughterhouse nearby. But where will those whose livelihood depends on it go if it’s closed down?” said Mohammed Sagir, Leader of the Opposition in the BJP-ruled municipal corporation.

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Along with hundreds of meat traders, Sagir had tried to storm the NGT premises on August 30 and 31 when the tribunal was to decide whether the slaughterhouse should remain. Months earlier, the tribunal had ordered the slaughterhouse be shifted by June 30. The authorities thought of Mugalia Kot on the city’s outskirts but before they could convey this to the tribunal, BJP MLA Rameshwar Sharma opposed it, first by running a Facebook campaign and then by rallying sarpanchs from scores of nearby villages.

The tribunal summoned the chief secretary and four principal secretaries and the authorities hurriedly submitted a plan that a Rs 20-crore slaughterhouse would be built on a seven-acre plot on the old Stud Farm, a vast stretch of unoccupied land just behind the existing slaughterhouse.

Before that could be finalised, a few BJP MLAs including ministers joined a group of people living in a swanky colony on the other side of the land. They took out rallies and candle marches arguing that the slaughterhouse would not just pollute the environment but also pose a threat to the aircraft flying above. The plan was eventually shot down.

“From the farmer who sells buffaloes to traders, from drivers to butchers, from meat sellers to meat eaters, all will be affected,” said Mohd Akram, who sells fodder. “Why can’t they simply build a huge wall along the existing slaughterhouse that will hide it from people on the street?”They can build a modern slaughterhouse and ensure nothing flows into the nullah,” suggested Qureshi, the buffalo trader, who supports a family of 10. Meat sellers argue that animals are slaughtered only at night and the meat transported by early morning to ensure no one is offended.

Last week, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced the slaughterhouse will be built outside the municipal limits but did not specify a location. Days later, when the name of one possible location was discussed, BJP MLA Vishnu Khatri announced he would not let the slaughterhouse come up anywhere in his constituency, Berasia.

Those opposed to the modern slaughterhouse argued Bhopal would turn into a meat mandi because more than 1,200 animals will be slaughtered every day.

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