NCP chief Sharad Pawar slammed the decision as ‘irresponsible.’
Mumbai: Businessmen on Tuesday urged the Centre to rethink its notification to ban slaugher of cattle as the fortunes of the $5 billion meat export industry and the $7.5 billion leather industry could be affected.
While the West Bengal and Kerala governments have opposed the ban, the Maharashtra government is playing it safe by saying that it is 'studying' the matter. However, NCP chief Sharad Pawar slammed the decision as ‘irresponsible.’
Last week, the Environment Ministry had notified the ban on sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter and also prohibited any cruel practices on them. The rules define cattle as bovine animals, including bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes, heifers, calves and camels.
Reacting to the notification, Fauzan Alvi, spokesperson of the All India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association, questioned why only buffalo slaughter has been banned on grounds of feared cruelty. “There is no cow slaughter and we export buffalo meat to 70 countries, including the Middle East and South Asia. There are 25 lakh people directly employed in this industry who will be impacted by this ban. The notification mentions cruelty to animals. But then why single out the buffalo? Chickens, goat, sheep are also slaughtered. It talks of animal smuggling, which can be handled by the cops. As stakeholders in the meat exports industry, we were not even taken into consideration. Ultimately, even farmers who sell their old livestock to slaughter houses will be affected,” he said.
Mohammed Qureshi, president of the Mumbai Suburban Beef Dealer Association said it was a disastrous move. “The Maharashtra government has already banned the slaughter of bull and bullocks. Now the Centre intends to ban the slaughter of buffalos. What will the poor eat? Farmers usually sell animals that are old, but will not be able to do that now. The fear that of diseases being spread through the slaughter of unhealthy cattle has no basis as state veterinary personnel check animals before slaughtering. In Mumbai's Deonar abattoir, a BMC veterinary official also checks the quality of meat,” he said.
Sandeep Katke of the Dharavi Leather Company, said that about 52,000 members of cobbler community are associated with the business in Dharavi alone. “The skin of an animal is waste which we use to make beautiful products like bags, purses, and shoes. If the government approves of the notification, then the entire leather business will get affected," he said.
Sachin Shinde of Maruti Leather from Dharavi said, “Making beautiful products from raw skin is an art. People have specialised in that for years and for generations. If the notification is implemented, they will be forced to forget their art and be left with no other means of livelihood.”
The Maharashtra government, which banned slaughter of bull and bullocks in 2015, said, “We are studying the notification by the Centre.” Animal husbandry minister Mahadev Jankar said, “We have already declared a scheme of cow shelters to take care of old animals. We will be giving Rs One crore for each district every year for the cow shelter.”
Sharad Pawar said the decision was very irresponsible. “I do not know why the decision was taken. The whole cattle market is going to be affected. There are no two opinions about hurting sentiments where cow slaughter is concerned but the decision to ban slaughter of buffalos is irresponsible,” he said.