BMC's slaughter rules hit mutton shop owners hard

Mumbai: With the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) stepping up the enforcement of rules that mandate slaughter of animals only at the Deonar abattoir, the city's mutton shop owners are up in arms and claiming their business is being hit. Citing their inability to sell fresh meat to customers, they say by sourcing in bulk orders from abattoirs will result in the meat getting stale, thus affecting consumers health.

To implement Bombay High Court's orders, BMC has been instructing all local butchers to not slaughter any animals – goat or sheep – in their shops. They have been told to get them slaughtered at Deonar and transport the mutton to their shops.

Local butchers, however, say following the rules is impractical as they cannot make daily trips to the abattoir to source the mutton, as there will be many shop owners in queue there. On the other hand, the slaughter of many goats at one go will result in the meat becoming stale, they said.

“Last week, I was told not to sell the fresh mutton of goats cut in a shop. BMC officials said that I will have to order the mutton in bulk from abattoirs,” said Raju Shinde, a shop owner at Chembur.

“This would obviously have a huge impact on our business as I doubt customers would prefer the mutton that would be ordered in the morning hours and sold till night,” he added.

The other problem, according to shop owners, is of storage. “Even if we consider to order the mutton of goats slaughtered early in the morning at the abattoir, we are worried if it would remain fresh till the day's end, as customers come throughout the day. No one would want to purchase a stale meat,” said Tayyab Qureshi, a butcher.

According to them, if the mutton sourced from the abattoir has to be kept fresh for the entire day, it will need a cold storage. “Thus, we will have to shell out more money to purchase a cold storage facility and also bear the electricity charges,” Qureshi said.

“Not only in our shops, the mode of transport in which the mutton would be sent to shops would require a cold storage facility. If these aren't available, then maximum probability exists that the mutton can become stale. We cannot afford to sell such meat,” Qureshi added.

“If animals are slaughtered at Deonar and then brought to localities, then it is likely that the meat would get infected and its consumption would result in health issues. The only way out is to store the meat in a cool and controlled temperature, but that cannot be the best way to ensure the mutton does not get infected,” said Dr Gautam Bhansali, consultant physician, Bombay Hospital.

When contacted, a senior official from BMC's market department said, “We are not against any community or a business. We are only going by what the high court has asked us to do. Accordingly, we have started instructing shop owners and others in the business to stop slaughtering animals on their premises.”

The orders, cited by BMC, were passed in August last year by a bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Gautam Patel, prohibiting slaughtering of animals inside houses, private societies and even local shops. The orders, pertaining to the slaughter of animals, clearly state that goats will be slaughtered only at abattoirs and not at any other private place.

In his orders, Justice Dharmadhikari had said, “In a city that is as densely crowded and congested as Mumbai and where typical residential apartments are small, we do not believe it is possible to make effective arrangements for human, hygienic and safe methods of sacrificial slaughter.”

“We restrain all slaughtering within residential flats or accommodations. As regard housing societies, while we do not completely restrain the granting of permissions, we direct that no such permissions should be granted if the applicant society is located within a reasonable one-kilometre walking distance from a community space for slaughtering (including a religious slaughtering space),” the bench said.

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