'Entire $ 5 million industry will be hit'

The controversial notification banning the sale of cattle for slaughter in markets has stirred a hornet’s nest. The industry is up in arms against the move. Fauzan Alavi, the spokesperson of the All India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association, spoke to Shemin Joy of DH on the various aspects of the new rule. Excerpts:

What is your view on the notification?
It is all flawed. First thing, it is anti-farmer. Mainly because farmers will not have an edge if the buyer is going to his house and negotiating. Then they say, you cannot take it for slaughter. Take the case of a butcher, how will he now know who is selling a goat or a buffalo. Then there should not be any market within 25 km of the state border. In Delhi-NCR, the biggest market is in Ghazipur, which is just metres away from the Uttar Pradesh border. What do you do? Now, if you take the question of animal cruelty, then why is it only for buffaloes. Have you seen how poultry is dealt with? Goats and sheep are transported hundreds of kilometres. So why nobody is bothered about it. Another point raised is smuggling, which is a law and order issue. If somebody is smuggling cars through borders, are you going to ban the sale of cars?

Were stakeholders not involved?
Not at all. Leave the private sector, even stakeholders from the government were not involved. Some 15 people sat down in a room and decided. Why come up with a policy without consulting stakeholders? You are saying it was in the public domain, 13 responded and you acted on their advice. If it was in the public domain, then the chief ministers and others would not have reacted in this way. The industry was not aware.

What do you think is the motive?
We feel that there are a particular set of people who have some hatred, they are behind this. I would not have found fault if the notification had every animal in it. But why only buffaloes. When buffaloes come, you know it is a particular trade with a particular set of people who are dealing with it. The only people who get affected are Dalits and Muslims. This is where we feel that it is selective. This is where we feel that it is not done in the right spirit.

Are you happy with the way the Opposition has taken up the issue?
That is political for them. Obviously, on such occasions, parties take political advantage. These are also political as well as social issues. People are used to certain kind of life and when it is disrupted, they will react. But I think in a country like ours, respect for each other’s views and lifestyle is important. That is how we survived so long.

How will this affect businesses?
See, the first affected will be the farmers. Feeding animals is a burden. You know what kind of money our farmers get. On an average, a farmer is making Rs 1 lakh a year. Out of that, if he sells one buffalo for meat, he gets Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000. For him, this is a lot of money. So he will be crippled now. Also, more than 25 lakh employees will be affected. Then the leather industry is going to be affected. There are by-products, pharmaceutical companies, export goods, poultry feed, paint brush, handicraft industry etc.

What is your estimate of loss?
It can affect the entire $ 5 million industry. The meat business will be affected because 90-95% of cattle is procured from markets. So if markets are not functioning, it will have an adverse impact. How do I know who is selling cattle? The reason is when 90% of the supply is coming from the markets, what will happen when the supply is stopped?

What are your demands?
There should be a fair discussion. Buffalo should be taken out of the notification because it is affecting the entire trade. If it had been fair, then all stakeholders would have been consulted and all animals would have been covered. 

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