Meat shop owners in Ghaziabad, who are currently on a strike, approached district administration officials on Thursday and sought their help in relaxing the conditions set by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Two days ago, the district officials had set up a single window where meat shop owners are to apply for licences to continue operations.
It is estimated that nearly 500 shops in Ghaziabad have been affected by the crackdown of the Uttar Pradesh government on illegal slaughterhouses. The local shops, which operated until now without licences from Ghaziabad municipal corporation, had remained shut for the last three days.
“We have to apply online and follow a number of guidelines which we fail to understand as we are uneducated. We have been operating for decades and don’t know any other trade or business. We have been asked to apply for licences and also to follow guidelines. But we are finding it hard and our earnings have been affected,” said Bablu Qureshi, a meat shop operator in Raj Nagar.
“We have also lent our support to the cause of small shop owners whose businesses have been affected. Only the bigger licensed slaughterhouses will benefit as they can easily meet the conditions. The poor shop owners will not be able to do so and may will have to permanently shut businesses,” said Hari Dutt Jatav, a former councillor.
Under the many conditions for operations listed under Schedule IV of the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Business), Regulations of 2011, the shop owners will not be able to slaughter animals at shops and will have to maintain hygiene apart from making arrangements for procuring meat from licensed slaughterhouses.
“We are on the verge of losing our decades-old businesses. We always supported the government’s efforts to nail illegal slaughtering. For the past three years, our licences were not renewed but we were allowed to operate. Now, we come to know that the guidelines have to be adhered to. These are too difficult for us to comply with. If there is no relaxation, we will resort to a hunger strike,” said Jameel Qureshi, another shop owner.
District magistrate Nidhi Kesarwani had already said that shop owners will have to follow the guidelines laid down and apply for licences at the single window system opened at the municipal corporation and nagar palikas.