APP feature by Zeeshan Mansoor Bhatti
HYDERABAD, April 16, (APP): More than a decade after an envisaged plan to rid the urban areas of cattle pens and private slaughter houses began to materialize, the authorities are still far from accomplishing the task.
The cattle colony of Hyderabad, spread on 217 acres along Hyderabad-Tando Muhammad Khan road, despite all efforts, has failed to attract both the pens and the butchers.
The colony’s remoteness from the urban centers, lack of facilities like road infrastructure, water supply, electricity connections and lack of space for the daily movement of cattle are being cited as the main impediments.
Meanwhile, the butchers though apparently wary of the official checks over the health of animals also refer to the long distance of the house from their meat selling shops as an irritant besides other issues.”Our elders established this cattle pen in Halanaka many decades ago. Over the years, we acquired the facilities like electricity and water supply. Our proximity to the Phuleli canal allows us to take our cattle for bathing regularly. Here, we also have enough space from the pen to the canal for routine movement of the cattle. Do we get the same things in the cattle colony? “”I believe we can’t,” contended Rashid Ali, whose pen is located near the bank of Phuleli canal.
He also finds the number of plots and their sizes insufficient.
An official source of Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (HMC), which owns the colony, informed the APP that out of 950 plots, the pens have been set up on 300 plots so far over the last decade.
“The pace of relocation of the pens from the areas in City, Latifabad and Qasimabad Talukas to this colony has been admittedly slow,” he acknowledged.
Mir Ali Soomro, who owns a pen in Qasimabad, said he could not afford to buy a pen in the colony by selling his small plot of few hundred square yards located near the Bypass road. “My pen and residence are in the same plot. While my financial position doesn’t allow me to buy a plot, the relocation will also disturb my family and perhaps the whole business,” he said, pointing out that his customers are mostly residents of the same area and the transportation between the colony his pen will take 15 kilometres daily travel.
The elderly pen owner in Hussainabad, Adal Ahmed, also shared identical reasons like proximity to a waterway, established customers and distance as impediments to the relocation.
Municipal Commissioner Shahid Ali Khan said the HMC was trying to address all the concerns to facilitate shifting of the pens. The meat sellers also underline similar constraints, arguing that their businesses would be affected if they opted for it. “We slay the goats at our own shop where we sell the meat. If we are forced to take the animals to the government’s slaughter house this will add transportation cost which will ultimately lead to a hike in the meat price which is already expensive,” said Kamran Qureshi, who runs a meat shop in Latifabad.
According to the Municipal Commissioner, the HMC charges Rs. 5 for buffalo and Rs. 2 for goat at the slaughter house. “It’s a very nominal fee,” he said. However, he told that at the council meeting of the HMC on April 6, a member tabled a resolution for increasing the fee tenfold to Rs.100 for the big animal and Rs. 50 for the small. The resolution drew a debate against increasing the fee.”We are already finding it hard to convince the butchers to go the slaughter house. Any increase in the rate will fail our efforts,” argued Haroon Qureshi, chairman of Union Committee 9 which is based in Paretabad.
The resolution was deferred for debate in the next council meeting. The HMC’s Slaughter House remained shut for almost a decade before the former Commissioner Hyderabad Qazi Shahid Pervez inaugurated it after rehabilitation on February 8. However, according to the HMC sources, only 60 to 70 goats and buffaloes are currently being slaughtered daily at the house at present.
“Around 90 percent of the slaughter is still taking place at unauthorized places and that too illegally,” an official of HMC, who requested anonymity, told the APP.
Veterinarian Dr Arif Jahejo said at the unauthorized places there are no checks to stop the slaughter of weak and unhealthy buffaloes, calves or goats.
He told that the HMC’s facility also employs the vets who are given responsibility to certify the health status of each animal before its slaughter.
Advocate Wahid Ali Khan, on behalf of some residents of Latifabad unit 9, filed a petition in the Sindh High Court in February, pleading for action against the butchers who slaughter animals at unauthorized places.
He informed the court about the alleged nuisance such places create in the neighbourhoods and appealed for the SHC to order the authorities to close those butcher shops.
The petition is pending hearing in the Hyderabad Circuit Bench. The SHC Justice Iqbal Kalhoro led Water Commission has ordered closure of the illegal slaughter houses, specially those which operate on the banks of the Phuleli canal.