Three years after Maharashtra effected a ban on beef, slaughter of buffaloes is reportedly touching an all-time high in the state. Figures collected by the department of animal husbandry revealed that, last year, 9,61,516 buffaloes were slaughtered for human consumption — as against the 6,13,134 animals culled in 2014-15 — the year the ban was implemented.
Concerns were raised from various quarters when the Devendra Fadnavis-led government had obtained the Presidential nod for banning slaughter of animals belonging to the cow progeny in the state in March 2015. The government, through an Amendment to The Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976, had banned the slaughter of bulls, bullocks, ox and oxens for meat. Figures suggest that prior to the ban, on an average, three to four lakh such animals, along with an equal number of buffaloes, were slaughtered for human consumption. Currently, such slaughter carries a jail term of five years.
Given the complete ban on cattle slaughter, abattoirs are reporting an overwhelming number of buffaloes being brought in for slaughter. Data collected by the department of animal husbandry revealed that over 9 lakh animals were slaughtered last year — the highest-ever recorded in the state in the last five years.
The increase in the number of buffalo slaughter has set alarm bells ringing in the department of animal husbandry.
An official of the department said efforts needed to be taken to put a ceiling on the slaughter. Otherwise, he added, there might be a significant erosion of the population. In the last one year, the state has reported production of 1,93,219.19 metric tonne of meat from sheep, goat, buffalo and pigs.
The rising price of buff (buffalo meat) coincides with the increasing number of buffaloes being slaughtered for meat. The retail price of buff has increased from Rs 109.67 per kg to Rs 147 per kg in most parts of the state. Meanwhile, the price of animals in major cattle markets has remained almost stable, while that of lactating cows has seen a dip. Devdatta Palve, secretary of the cattle market of Ghodegaon in Ahmednagar’s Nevasa taulka, said the price of a two-year-old lactating animal is between Rs 50-60,000. “There is enough arrival of both lactating animals and animals for slaughter,” he said. Ghodegaon’s market is the largest buffalo market in the state.
Just about 75 km from Nevasa, in the cattle market of Loni in Ahmednagar’s Rahata taluka, the mood is anything but upbeat. The trade of animals in the market — one of the largest in the state — has almost come to a standstill given the lack of buyers. Sandeep Jadhav, a trader in the market said given the low realisation of milk, price of lactating animals has also seen a decline. “A year ago, a two-year-old lactating animal giving 20 litre of milk per day would have fetched more than Rs 1.5 lakh. At present, the price is stuck at Rs 60-70,000. Still, we don’t have enough customers,” he said.