Maharashtra: Meat supply hit, fish harvest down due to transportation curbs across state borders

Sanjana Bhalerao
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At present, states authorities are not allowing the transport of fish/fish products. (File)

As the 21-day lockdown continues, meat and fish supply is set to take a massive hit in Mumbai. While traders have stopped transporting livestock to slaughter houses since Tuesday, there are reports of fish harvest going down considerably.

Despite Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s clarification on Friday that there is no ban on the sale of eggs, chicken, mutton and fish in markets or restaurants, no trader is visiting Deonar abattoir with fresh livestock. On Saturday, no animal was slaughtered at the BMC-run abattoir in Deonar, which usually witnesses around 3,500 animals being slaughtered every day.

The 64-acre Deonar abattoir gets fresh livestock, including goats, sheep and buffaloes from across the country, especially Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and even Assam. Workers at the abattoir said that fresh livestock has not been coming, as state borders have been sealed and supply chain workers as well as traders are scared of being beaten up by the police.

Mohammad Ali Qureshi, president of Bombay Suburban Beef Dealers Association said, “Meat is exempted from the lockdown but transporting livestock is a big issue. Traders have stopped transporting livestock to slaughter houses since Tuesday."

On a usual day, around 3,000 sheep, 250 buffaloes and 200 pigs are slaughtered at Deonar. While on Thursday, only 20 sheep were slaughtered, no animal was slaughtered on Saturday. No activity at Deonar meant that mutton shops in large parts of the city are shut. Dr Yogesh Shetye, general manager of Deonar abattoir, said, “We haven’t closed the abattoir. We have only restricted entry of large crowds. The administration has appealed that only caretakers of animal and dealers should enter... There has been no seller or trader at the abattoir since the last two days.”

Around 300 livestock is still available at the abattoir. “Around 20 animals were slaughtered on Wednesday and Thursday. People are scared and traders have stopped coming,” said Shetye. The BMC, meanwhile, sanitised the abattoir on Saturday.

The state fisheries commissioner, meanwhile, has written to the principal secretary (Agriculture and Food and Civil Supplies) urging that fish, shrimp and fish seed be included in the list of essential commodities exempted from the lockdown and also provide emergency passes to those involved in their transportation across the state borders. Officials said the sale of fish in certain coastal areas of Raigad, Palghar and Ratnagiri has also been put on hold. Commissioner (Fisheries) Rajiv Jadhav said, “Fish harvest has considerably gone down. For example, only one vehicle from Gujarat came to Mumbai for loading of fish harvest. We have asked district collectors to provide emergency passes for transporters.”

At present, states authorities are not allowing the transport of fish/fish products. Uninterrupted supply of fish feed is essential for feeding of fish/shrimp in aquaculture farms.