The central bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the immediate closure of Bhopal’s only slaughterhouse saying it was the only way to ensure compliance of its previous orders to shift the facility outside Bhopal Municipal Corporation limits.
Municipal Commissioner Vijay Dutta said the order was received on Wednesday and he has written to the district collector and the state government for compliance. Another senior officer said the government is likely to challenge the NGT order in the high court because “it’s not possible to comply with the order of immediate closure.”
A Bhopal resident had moved the tribunal in 2014 seeking relocation of the slaughterhouse, in Jinsi locality, arguing that it was polluting a nearby water body. The NGT had ordered the shifting of the slaughterhouse in 2015. Since then, the matter has been stuck due to administrative and political reasons. The latest objection came from former chief minister Digvijaya Singh who objected to the site of the new slaughterhouse – Aadampur Chhawani – on the grounds that it would hurt religious sentiments of devotees who visit a famous temple nearby.
Singh’s son and state urban development minister Jaivardhan Singh had responded to the objection and announced that the slaughterhouse will not be built at the site.
In its latest order, the tribunal noted that it had given sufficient time to the state for searching an alternate site and extended the date of closure first to June 2016. It then extended the deadline to March 31, 2018 in another hearing and had also ordered the state government to deposit a penalty of one crore. In a subsequent hearing, the tribunal passed another order seeking Rs two crore in performance guarantee and a penalty of Rs 10,000 for each day’s delay in shifting the facility. By June 2019, the recurring penalty reached Rs 45.70 lakh.
When construction did not start by July 18, 2019, the tribunal granted time till December 31, 2019 and sought a performance guarantee of Rs five crore and continued the daily fine, dismissing the municipal corporation’s plea for exemption.
Issuing the closure orders, the tribunal noted, “On every date of hearing, submissions with different reasons are being made and the fact remains that since 2015, the slaughterhouse is operating at the same place in Bhopal. The respondents are not bothered to expedite the work of the new slaughterhouse,” It added that in its opinion, immediately closure was the only option to ensure compliance of its previous orders.
It directed the Bhopal SSP to assist the district administration to effect a closure. While posting the matter to November 7, it also asked the Bhopal district magistrate to submit a personal affidavit at least three days in advance.
Congress councillor Mohammed Sagar, who had led an agitation against proposed closure, said thousands of people will suffer by the move because the slaughterhouse is a source of livelihood for meat traders as well as those who sell goats and buffaloes. He claimed that authorities locked the slaughterhouse on Wednesday itself but the police denied doing so.