Almost a month after they were asked to shut shops, meat sellers in Uttar Pradesh’s Noida have slowly started getting back to business. The Quint spoke to a number of shop owners to find out more about the latest development in UP’s meat politics.
Nawazuddin Meat Shop lies in one corner of a lane in Sector 8, Noida. Almost a month of inactivity, the shop has been redone and fitted with green curtains and tinted glass doors. As two women make their way into the sufficiently cooled shop, they eye chunks of buffalo meat hanging from hooks. After inspecting the meat on display, they make their way out of the shop. One quips, sab galha pighla hai yaya. (The meat here looks stale)
They then move on to an adjacent shop, which too has been redesigned in an identical manner. The women looked happy, probably because they were now spoiled for choice, with a number of shops in the area to choose from.
Mohd Ilias, the owner of Nawazuddin Meat Shop, points at the new white refrigerator that remains perched on a platform. Apart from a fresh coat of paint, the meat shop has also installed an insect killing unit.
Mohd Ilias, Owner, Nawazuddin Meat ShopThe officials asked us to make necessary changes and then reopen our shops. Now, after spending almost Rs 70 thousand, we’ve received a fresh license.
The license has been issued to Nawazuddin Meat Shop by the Food Safety and Drug Administration for a period of one year. The permission to reopen, however, hasn’t been easy. Ilias had to borrow money from his relatives, following which he was able to meet most of the guidelines that have now become mandatory for meat shop owners to follow.
Among other provisions, the guidelines require sellers to install refrigerators, geysers and proper washing basins. This is in addition to regular health check for employees, transportation of meat in insulated freezers, and use of curtains and tinted doors. Meat, it has been made clear, cannot be sold within a radius of 50 metres from any place of worship. It must not be close to vegetable markets as well.
While some have managed to comply, others say the government’s crackdown on meat shops have left them in the lurch. Once a sprawling hub of chicken meat traders, Sector 4, Noida now bears a parched look. The makeshift shacks are gone, exposing their bare brick bottoms. Almost for a month now, meat sellers here have been huddling under one tent. It’s also been a month since they’ve been out of business.
In 2015, the Food Safety and Drug Administration (FSDA) issued licenses to a group of chicken meat sellers who had constructed makeshift shacks on top of a sewer, covered with concrete slabs. Meat sellers say FSDA officials were well aware of their business location and had given a nod after a detailed inspection.
Mohd Kalam, Meat SellerIf our shops were unauthorised, why did they (FSDA) issue licenses in the first place?
The clampdown on their shops has mounted a great deal of financial stress to meat sellers. From having to buy essential supplies on credit to defaulting on school fees, these traders feel they’ve been left in the lurch by the newly-formed BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.
Video Editor: Vivek Gupta