‘First gau rakshaks, now GST’: Animal skinners go on strike in Ludhiana
Protesting against 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) levied on raw hides and leather, animals skinners are on strike and not lifting carcasses, leading to inconvenience to residents for the past four days, in Ludhiana. The municipal corporation has no system for disposal of dead animals; its carcass-utilisation plant project is hanging fire for three years now.
Though the skinners helped dairy owners bury around 80 carcasses in Haibowal on Sunday to counter possible disease outbreak, there are still 100 dead cows, buffaloes and other animals lying dumped in vacant plots in the dairy complexes on Hambran Road, Tajpur Road, and other areas, sources said.
According to a survey by the MC five years ago, there are 70,000 cattle in the dairy complexes. Of these, at least 50 cattle, mostly calves, die every day. Dead animals have reportedly not been lifted from some gaushalas (cow shelters) too, and the situation is bad in rural areas as well.
“Earlier, we faced the wrath of ‘gau rakshaks’ (cow vigilantes), and now it’s GST,” remarked 46-year-old Krishan Lal, who is among those on strike, adding, “My family is involved in skinning of dead animals for the last 100 years. Carcasses are taken to ‘hadda rori’ near Ladhowal on the Sutlej river, and we bear expenses of transportation and labour.”
Watch the video here:
“We earn only Rs 150-200 from one dead cattle,” said Parshotam Lal, 51, adding, “How can we issue bills? The government has taken the wrong decision in imposing GST on raw leather.”
He said the strike would continue until the government rolls back the levy: “Skinners in other districts too have stopped work. We are going to stage protests there too.”
A dairy owner, who did not want to named, said, “The government should take this matter seriously as there are chances that other animals and humans too can catch infection from dead animals. Only we know how some carcasses were buried yesterday!”
MC’s veterinary officer Dr YP Singh said there is no provision for regular hiring of skinners. “To avoid spread of diseases, we are taking necessary measures to dispose of the carcasses. An official has been sent to gather information about the actual number,” he said.
MC commissioner Jaskiran Singh said, “We are taking this issue seriously, and measures are being taken to bury the dead animals.”
As for the MC’s carcass plant, the issue is in court ever since residents of Nurpur Bet, where it was proposed to be set up, filed a plea against it.