The cutting edge (pun not intended) halal sheep and goat slaughtering facility at the Ghazipur slaughterhouse sliced wide open the age-ld man versus machine debate, as it became operational on Thursday.
A day before the glittering automated cleavers of Ghazipur swung in action, the halal section and the livestock market at the Delhi Idgah slaughterhouse at Paharganj were sealed, putting thousands of workers out of job.
Workers connected with the century-old facility alleged being uprooted from their only means of subsistence.
“We are talking about thousands of unskilled and semi-skilled workers—mostly migrants from Kashmir and the Hindi belt—who make ends meet by working endlessly at the slaughterhouse for their daily wages,” said Mohammad Asif, President, New Delhi Meat Traders’ Association.
“Is it justified to uproot so many people from their livelihood – just because a machine can do their work faster?”
The modern facility has brought down the number of people employed at the old city abattoir from roughly 8,000 to just 200.
“There used to be an estimated 2,000 workers for each phase of the slaughtering process – transportation, slaughtering, shearing and disposing the carcasses,” said Asif.
His opinion as shared by most of those directly affected.
“Like hundreds of others, I used to make ends meet by earning a small commission on every animal I slaughtered,” said M.Yousuf (27), a migrant from Bhopal.
Yousuf was bitter about what the future would offer him.
“I should try and rent a rickshaw or maybe beg on the street, now that machines can do all the work,” he said.
Others said the new facility had destroyed the work culture inherent in household connected with the meat trade.
Nafeez Khan (28), a meat seller from Karol Bagh said, “In many old-city based families like mine, the male members of the family divide the trade-related tasks among themselves.”
“So while my father would transport the animals to the slaughterhouse, I would slaughter them, my younger brother would shear them and then, the youngest would dispose of the waste materials.”
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)—the civic agency responsible for the Ghazipur project—claimed the new high-tech facility, spread over 80 acres, was a more hygienic alternative to the two-century old abattoir in the old city.
“The Idgah Slaughter House is surrounded by thickly populated residential areas and causes traffic jams and unhygienic conditions,” said Deep Mathur, Director, Press and Information, MCD.
“In contrast, Ghazipur slaughterhouse has been constructed on the land which is wide open and has very convenient approach from NH-24.”
Mathur said the new slaughterhouse was employing workers from the old abattoir.
“Out of the total number of workers employed, 100% at the Jhatka facility are those that were previously employed and were trained before they started working at the Idgah slaughterhouse,” he said.
“ On the other hand, 30-40% of those working at the Halal and Buffalo facilities will be from the old slaughterhouse once they have been trained.” .
The Supreme Court’s decision of shifting the halal and livestock facilities to the Ghazipur slaughterhouse is to be reviewed by the apex court on the 26th of October.