Meat prices have gone up in the city as the only legal abattoir in Ghazipur has been closed for the past two months, with little clarity on when it can reopen. Mutton, earlier sold for around Rs 500 per kg, is now being sold for anything between Rs 700 to Rs 1,000 per kg in Delhi.
The East Delhi Municipal Corporation, which runs the 25-acre facility near NH-24, had closed the slaughterhouse in the last week of March. In an order, it said this was being done to “restrict close proximity of human involvement in compliance with guidelines to contain Covid-19”.
East MCD Commissioner Dilraj Kaur said the facility is also closed because the contract of the company that carries out slaughter has ended, and a proposal to extend the contract till the new tender is finalised is pending before the corporation.
The 10-year lease period of the firm running the plant, Frigorifico Allana, had expired in 2019 but was extended twice. The slaughterhouse would deliver over 4 lakh kg of meat daily.
Kaur said: “The company initially agreed to continue operations by following social distancing norms during the lockdown but then didn’t come forward. We will initiate a fresh contract and, in the meantime, try to work out an arrangement so the facility becomes functional.”
The plant runs in three shifts, of which two are for local consumption and one for export purposes. There are around 2,000-2,500 people at any given time inside the slaughterhouse.
A senior official from Frigorifico Allana said: “At this time, there is very less demand. Financial viability should also be considered as it is a challenge to work in present conditions, where business is at its lowest and exports have been hit.”
“We also expect the livestock market to be opened,” he said.
A senior EDMC official said factors such as low demand and exports taking a hit would have affected its revenue. The official added that most animals were brought from neighbouring Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, which means encountering several restrictions: “Unlike vegetables, it is difficult to control the movement of animals and ensure social-distancing.”
Gulfam Qureshi, president of the goat and sheep livestock market at Ghazipur, said thousands of people are associated with the trade, and because the slaughterhouse is closed, it has led to the buffalo, goat and sheep market to be closed. “People who are associated with the trade are becoming unemployed … It is for the MCD to resolve issues with the company and open the slaughterhouse,” he said.
EDMC standing committee head Sandeep Kapoor said, “I recently held a meeting with traders and have assured them that a solution will be found soon to open the market.”
On reopening the slaughter house, he said it could take some time as “not many companies have expertise in this business”.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines