No one to pick Delhi’s carcasses as price of rawhide tanks after closure of tanneries in UP
According to officials, around 150 to 200 animals — including bovines, donkeys and horses, perish every day in Delhi’s gaushalas, dairies and in Old Delhi, some due to natural causes and others to accidents and diseases.Updated: Oct 16, 2019 07:55 IST
Animal carcasses across the national capital are not being disposed as price of raw hide dropped after the closure of tanneries and leather processing units in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh due to environmental concerns.
According to officials, around 150 to 200 animals — including bovines, donkeys and horses, perish every dayin Delhi’s gaushalas, dairies and in Old Delhi, some due to natural causes and others to accidents and diseases.
Veterinary officers from the three municipal corporations of Delhi — north, south and east — said the contract to lift carcasses across the city is with Frigorifico Allana Private Limited, which runs the Ghazipur slaughterhouse and the city’s only rendering facility that uses the carcasses to make fertilizer.
The company engages sub-contractors who engage people to pick up these carcasses.
“These people would skin the carcasses and sell the hide to tanneries in Kanpur, Unnao and Jajmau for Rs 1500-2,000 per skin of a large animal. This was till the time the leather industry was doing well,” said Dr. Ravindra Sharma, head of the veterinary department at the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).“But since the units along river Ganga have been shut for environmental concerns, it does not fetching more than Rs 250 each. It’s an unsustainable model for the workers and hence the reluctance to pick up carcasses.”
The Uttar Pradesh government had ordered shut most of the 481 tanneries in Kanpur and nearby leather units from December 15, 2018 to March 15, 2019 to ensure clean water in downstream Ganga for the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj (Allahabad).
However, tanneries continued to stay closed as the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) refused them no-objection certificates (NoC) citing presence of effluents beyond permissible limits in the Ganga.
Frigorifico Allana Private Limited says it is well aware of the issue and has already held several meetings with East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC), with which it had signed the agreement to accept carcasses.
“It is pure economics, a supply-demand issue. The demand for rawhide from leather units in Kanpur, Jalandhar, Vellore, etc. was so much till even mid-last year that these men (labourers) would pay us for each animal carcass they would skin. And since then, the scales have tilted such that we are paying them to lift the animals,” said Fauzan Alavi, a director with Allana. “Paying the carcass lifters was not a part of our financial scheme. Now we are talking to EDMC to see what can be done to make the men’s work easier.”
EDMC veterinary officers said they have told Allana to abide by its contract. “We have told the company to ensure dead animals are lifted as we cannot have a civic mess here,” said Dr. Om Parkash, head of EDMC’s vet department.
On the ground, however, carcass pickers say the money that Allana paid them wasn’t enough.
“Allana’s pay doesn’t cover our fuel expense and efforts, and the hides we take Hapur’s (UP) chamra manmdi (hide market) fetches us almost nothing. The municipalities must think of us and our families,” said Kamal Singh, a subcontractor for carcass lifting who works in Delhi’s central and south zone area.
Karzan Singh, who lifts carcasses from Green Park and Lajpat Nagar area, said, “We don’t bother with the roadkills anymore, and if someone makes a call, we don’t do it for free but ask for payment now.”
Municipal councilors said they fear that if the situation is not resolved soon, it could have serious consequences.
SDMC municipal councillor from Aya Nagar, Ved Pal, flagged the issue at a standing committee meeting of the south civic body last month.
“Officers of the Arjangarh Air Force Station, which lies in my jurisdiction, have told me that it’s become a security issue for them. The carcasses invite kites, vultures and eagles which can hit their choppers. Besides, dead animals lying on the roads at night can lead to bikers, car drivers and truckers colliding with them,” he said.
Pal, whose ward is largely agricultural and borders the Asola Bhatti forests, had complained that “animal carcasses are lying here in the open for days as (Allana’s) men demand money for the job and people who make the complaints/calls, often, refuse to pay.”
A senior North Delhi Municipal Corporation veterinary officer, who did not wish to be named, said the situation risks diseases and communal tensions as well.
“First, putrefying carcasses emit a foul odour, attract flies and other insects, and risk the spreading of diseases. Second, in the last few years, cow vigilantes have often mistaken animal carcasses being transported as instances of illegal cow slaughtering. This is, particularly, in the rural belt of Narela, Bawana, etc. We are forever scared that bodies of dead cows lying around for days could alert the vigilantes,” he said.