Two spells of heavy snowfall this month has Kashmir’s favourite dish off the menu: mutton. The non-availability of meat, sky rocketed in a state that consumes 51,000 tonnes of mutton annually.
“There is a poor supply of sheep due to frequent closure of the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway since January 7 snowfall,” said Mehraj-ud-Din Ahmad, a senior member of Kashmir Meat Suppliers’ Association.
Several trucks arrived in the past two days. “But meat is not visible in Srinagar city,” said Ahmad More than 85% population in the valley is non-vegetarian and is the mutton capital of the country (sic). “The state annually consumes 51,000 tonnes of mutton worth Rs 1,200 crore. Around 21,000 tonnes is imported in addition to 30,000 tonnes of mutton produced locally,” said animal husbandry department director Farooq Ahmad.
Hundreds of trucks carrying sheep and poultry were stranded on the highway due to recent snowfalls, hitting normal supply.
“We seized around 25 trucks carrying dead sheep, poultry and stale vegetables. Severe trucks loads carrying sheep and chicken were destroyed on the spot,” said Srinagar municipal corporation media relations officer Masrat Yousuf.
Srinagar is facing an acute shortage of meat and the hoarders are selling meat at Rs 350 per kg against the government rate of Rs 240.
“I bought meat for Rs 320 at Nowshera in Srinagar after searching for hours together. The government has failed to act against hoarders and shops over pricing,” said Dr Iffat Ahmad, a resident of old city.
Divisional commissioner Kashmir Asgar Samoon has asked authorities to advertise rates of vegetables, meat and chicken through print and electronic media.
The government has already rationed LPG gas in the valley and decided to issue only 5kg for 14.5kg per cylinder. The Srinagar-Jammu highway has opened for traffic but trucks carrying sheep from far off Rajasthan will take some time for fresh stocks.