No orders to close down meat shops, say South MCD officials
A senior SDMC official said that for such an order to be implemented, the municipal commissioner must direct the veterinary department, which issues meat shop licenses and regulates their operations
A day after South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) mayor Mukesh Suryan issued a letter to the municipal commissioner demanding the closure of meat shops in areas under the municipal body’s jurisdiction during the nine-day festival of Navratri(April 2 to 11), municipal officials continued to maintain that no official directive has been issued by the executive wing to enforce such a ban.
“I have not come across any official directive to close meat shops,” an SDMC official said Tuesday
A senior SDMC official explained that for such an order to be implemented, the municipal commissioner must direct the veterinary department, which issues meat shop licenses and regulates their operations. Officials of the veterinary department at the municipal headquarters on Minto Road also confirmed that the zonal staff did not receive any directions to enforce a ban on meat shops during Navratri. SDMC administers four administrative zones --south, central, west and Najafgarh zones.
A zonal official from the veterinary department, in fact, said that a large proportion of meat shops remain closed during Navratri due to a slowdown in sales. “Even on Tuesdays, a smaller number of shops remains open as many people abstain from eating meat on that day. We have not issued any orders to close down shops. If anyone wants to voluntarily close their outlets closed, we have no role in that,” the zonal official said.
On Monday evening, SDMC mayor Mukesh Suryan wrote to SDMC commissioner Gyanesh Bharti, asking for the closure of meat shops in south Delhi till April 11, 2022. He said that religious beliefs and sentiments of devotees are hurt due to meat shops remaining open during Navratri. “During the auspicious period, devotees observe fast for nine days with a strict vegetarian diet while abstaining from non-vegetarian food, alcohol and also certain spices. People forgo even the use of onion and garlic in their diets and the sight of meat being sold in open or near temples makes them uncomfortable. Their religious belief and sentiments are affected when they come across meat shops,” the letter said, adding the closing of meat shops near temples is also necessary to maintain cleanliness.
A senior veterinary department official stated that there are around 1,600 licensed meat shops in SDMC areas. “Unlike the liquor policy, which specifies the days on which liquor outlets should remain shut, the meat shop licensing policy has no such provision. Even if it is enforced, the matter can be legally challenged. Moreover, as per licensing regulations, no meat shop licence is granted within the radius of 150 metres near a temple or place of worship,” the official explained.
The Ghazipur slaughterhouse has the capacity to operate in three shifts with two shifts reserved for domestic consumption in the city. During each shift, nearly 4,500 sheep or goats and 500 buffaloes can be sold. Under normal circumstances, the city needs around 400,000 birds (chicken), 10,000 goats, 1,000 buffaloes and 500 pigs every day as per data shared by Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture Foundation, a Delhi-based livestock research group.
The letter has, however, caused confusion among the traders. Gulfam Qureshi, who heads the Ghazipur livestock market neat the Ghazipur abattoir said that he received many queries regarding this letter. “Many livestock traders voluntarily close their shops on the last three days of Navratri every year and the Ghazipur slaughterhouse also remains shut, but no one should be forcing us to close their outlets. It is a matter of our livelihood. What will happen if each community starts raising objections in this manner? It is not feasible. We should keep in mind that in Delhi as well India, the percentage of the non-vegetarian population is much higher. We have advised the traders to write to the mayor and municipal functionaries not to push for such a non-feasible step,” he said.
Mohammad Arshad Qureshi, who heads the Delhi Meat Merchant Association said that politics is being played by municipal corporation functionaries on the matter and the closing or opening of meat shops is a matter of choice. “Tuesday is generally a holiday for meat shops. Even the sales go down drastically during Navratri as a large number of customers do not consume meat. Many meat shop operators voluntarily close their shops but the point is that no one should be forcing anyone to close down the shops. It is a matter of choice,” Qureshi said. The association estimates that there are around 5,000-6,000 meat shops in the Capital.
EDMC mayor Shyam Sunder Aggarwal, meanwhile, said that he had issued an appeal to meat shop owners to not open their shops. “We should respect each others’ religious sentiments. It will promote harmony. We are not forcing everyone. We will follow the schedule that is followed every year,” he said.