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Animal waste in your food?

Parts of carcasses smuggled out of Deonar abattoir could well be headed for your plate, reports Gigil Varghese.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2006 04:29 IST

Animal intestines, lungs, offal and bones from Deonar abattoir — which should be buried at the nearby dump — could be finding their way to your table. Abattoir officials have been illegally siphoning off animal waste on the sly for over a year.

This was revealed during a surprise check carried out by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) on Tuesday, following HT’s November 5 report detailing inefficiency in the waste disposal system.

HT accompanied MPCB officials during the check. Officials, who declined to be named, said the undisposed parts could be used to adulterate food items. For instance, fat from lungs can be used to adulterate butter and intestines can be added to kheema.

Though the effluent treatment plant at the abattoir, which was shut for 10 days has started, solid waste — which should be incinerated — was missing.

The abattoir’s deputy general manager, Dr SK Kalkar, told officials that the parts were being disposed of by the deep burial method in the Deonar dump. But when MPCB officer Kartikeya Langote took abattoir officials to the dump, Kalkar’s claim was refuted by the dump in-charge, Patil (he refused to give a first name). Patil asked abattoir officials why they had got MPCB officers there when they had not been disposing of anything for over a year.

The abattoir official pointed to Loop 1 (a sector of the dump), claiming that animal waste was being buried there. However, dumping ground officials said that area has been shut for years.

The abattoir itself is a nightmare. The effluent treatment plant is functioning on temporary pumps as its submersible pumps are being repaired. “The plant was overflowing, indicating that capacity needs to be augmented. Crows were inside the abattoir where the meat is processed, raising serious hygiene issues,” said Langote.

MPCB Member Secretary Dr Dilip Boralkar was shocked. “We are issuing a show cause notice to abattoir officials. They will have to explain the absence of intestines, lungs, bones and offal. We are also unhappy with the abattoir’s general functioning,” he announced.

Kalkar then backtracked from his earlier claim that the body parts were being buried. “We only dump undigested waste from the intestines. Since the animals belong to the butchers, we hand over the body parts to them,” he said.

But this does not absolve abattoir officials. Prakash Sanglikar, former deputy municipal commissioner (solid waste management), who retired just a month ago, told HT: “The body parts are supposed to be dumped. It is against the law to hand them over to butchers as they can misuse the parts.”

Rakesh Kumar, head of the National Enviornmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) in Mumbai, told HT: “Bones can be used to produce charcoal or phosphorous, which is used as fish stock or poultry feed. It is also used in some toothpastes.” Intestines are used to produce absorbable sutures, used in surgeries.

This is the second time malpractices at the abattoir have emerged. A year ago, HT had reported the haphazard dumping of 14,000 carcasses of animals that had drowned during the 26/7deluge. Municipal Commissioner Johny Joseph had then promised to construct a five-foot boundary wall around the dumping ground and beef up security there. However, nothing has changed. On Tuesday, Joseph told HT: “I will not comment till I see the MPCB report myself.”