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Saturday, Nov 16, 2019

Traders in Goa brace for disruption as Karnataka mulls beef ban

Traders in Goa say that beef ban in Karnataka will cripple their supply.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2019 16:20 IST
Gerard de Souza
Gerard de Souza
Hindustan Times, Panaji
Goa largely depends on neighbouring Karnataka for supply of animals for slaughter.
Goa largely depends on neighbouring Karnataka for supply of animals for slaughter.(HT PHOTO)
         

A likely ban on beef in neighbouring Karnataka will cripple the supply to Goa, meat traders in the coastal state have warned.

With BJP-ruled Goa’s beef supply largely dependent on Karnataka, also a BJP-ruled state, traders fear that such a move will ruin their livelihood as well as render Goa’s government-run abattoir, which relies on cattle brought in from Karnataka, defunct.

“We bring in beef and live animals from Karnataka. If they shut down the business in Karnataka there will be a huge effect in Goa. Goa is a tourist place and many foreigners come here, hotels and other businesses depend on us for beef. It will affect the whole state,” Manna Bepari the president of Qureshi Meat Traders Association of Goa said.

Karnataka minister CT Ravi set the cat among pigeons in Goa saying the government would introduce a bill banning beef after studying laws in other states.

The Goa BJP, which insists that the party is secular, has said it would be premature to react to comments until the Karnataka government’s action has crystalised.

“If they do it we will see. Why should we jump the gun? There is no comment at this stage,” Michael Lobo a two-term BJP MLA and minister said.

While Goa has its own legal slaughterhouse - the Goa Meat Complex run by the Goa government, the lack of cattle markets and fairs in the state forces traders to bring in live animals from neighbouring Karnataka. Others choose to bring in meat slaughtered at private slaughterhouses in Karnataka, rather than bear the cost of transporting a live animal to Goa.

Around 20 tonnes of beef is consumed in Goa every day. It is mostly eaten by its 26% Catholic and 11% Muslim populations, apart from tourists.

The traders believe that any such law will not only affect livelihoods but also infringe upon food choices.

“They shouldn’t be telling people what to and what not to eat. The constitution enshrines a right that people can eat whatever they want. There is a move to unnecessarily target the people… the poor. People, should have the freedom of food of their choice. Beef is legit food,” Bepari said.

“We are following all the norms as laid down by the law. Whatever is illegal can be shut down. What is legal should be should be allowed to continue. That is why what is as per the law should go on -- be in BJP or Congress in power. Our business should not be at the mercy of which government is in power,” Bepari said.

The Goa BJP including former chief ministers Laxmikant Parsekar and Manohar Parrikar had vehemently defended their government’s stance on the sale of beef. More recently minister for Animal Husbandry Mauvin Godinho told the legislative assembly that the notion that the BJP was against beef was false.

“Because it is a BJP led government, propaganda is being made that they are against meat eaters. It is totally a false allegation. We believe in carrying all the people with us and there is no objection in meat being consumed either by tourists or by the local people,” Godinho said.

Godinho whose department overlooks the government run slaughterhouse the Goa Meat Complex blamed “NGOs from outside the state” for disrupting the functioning of the government run complex where animals are slaughtered.

The Goa Meat Complex is a favourite target of right wing NGOs who have repeatedly filed petitions in the Bombay High Court at Goa alleging illegalities and lack of procedure at the Goa Meat Complex.