Supply of meat has been hit hard in Delhi due to the crackdown on illegal abattoirs and the meat sellers' strike in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh but the real impact will be felt only after the nine-day-long Navratra.
Industry experts said the festival, during which Hindus generally abstain from non-vegetarian food, will "soften the blow" of shortage of meat as its consumption comes down by around 50 per cent during the period in the national capital.
An official in Ghazipur wholesale meat market said supply of goats from Uttar Pradesh has totally stopped since the crackdown on slaughterhouses and the ensuing strike in UP.
A meat wholesaler said some suppliers from Uttar Pradesh, who have licences to run their business, have also stopped sending goats fearing attacks by vigilantes.
Traders said the shortage of supply will not affect Delhi till after the Navratra though marginal increase in mutton prices has been reported in some areas.
Garish Oberoi, Vice President of Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India, said chicken and mutton supply to hotel industry has not been affected significantly. He, however, said buffalo meat supply has been hit hard.
"The impact would taper off eventually as the government, we hope, would take steps to streamline the licensing norms," he told PTI.
Meat sellers at Ghazipur Mandi in East Delhi are anticipating a rise in prices if the strike continues in UP.
"As Delhi doesn't have livestock farms, the city only relies on UP, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana. Earlier, around 20 trucks loaded with goats used to come to Ghazipur Mandi every day from Uttar Pradesh. There has been no supply from UP in the last few days.
"We are currently depending on supplies from Punjab and Rajasthan," said Mohammad Atiq, a wholesaler of goat meat.
"The real impact of the crackdown on slaughter houses in Delhi will be felt once the Navratras ends," general secretary of Ghazipur poultry market association Mohammed Saleem said.
"Usually, the demand of goat meat is down around two- three days before the start of Navratra and also during the festival," he said.
Meat sellers, especially mutton vendors, in Uttar Pradesh went on an indefinite strike yesterday against the state-wide crackdown on illegal and mechanised slaughterhouses.
Oberoi, also an executive member of Central UP Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says, "The supply has been affected, and in some hotels and restaurants in UP, they have even stopped serving mutton-based dishes."
"But, since it is Navratra, and the consumption of meat goes down drastically during this period. This would soften the blow," he said.
The crackdown on illegal abattoirs was one of the first decisions taken by Aditya Nath Yogi who took charge as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh on March 19 after the BJP swept the assembly polls.
Shutting down of illegal and mechanised abattoirs and cow protection ('guraksha') was among the poll promises of the BJP.
"Already hotels and restaurants in Noida, Loni, Ghaziabad and other places in UP are hit due to the ban and they are purchasing meat from Delhi.
"As local demand would rise after Navratra, it will push prices up," said a trader at Ghazipur Mandi.