High-level team visits slaughterhouses across the State

A high-level team put together by the State government to take stock of the functioning of the slaughterhouses in the face of their rampant violations of rules will recommend a mechanism similar to the State Level Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (SLSMC) at the district level.

The team, which is visiting slaughterhouses in municipal corporations across the State, is likely to submit its report to the State government next week. The recommendation will be for a district-level sanctioning and monitoring committee headed by the District Collector, said Gauri Maulekhi, member of the team and co-opted member of the Union government’s Animal Welfare Board of India.

“Another important suggestion will be to give training to butchers, which is now missing. The corporation will have to ensure that slaughterhouses kept the health certificates of butchers in order. Besides, they should be subjected to periodical health check-ups since they deal with a sensitive product like meat,” she said.

Ms. Maulekhi who visited the slaughterhouse at Kaloor on Thursday was shocked to witness the transportation of a truck-full of cattle in absolutely deplorable conditions from Tamil Nadu for slaughtering.

“I have been to slaughterhouses across the country but nowhere have I come across such brutality being meted out to animals like the slaughterhouses here in Kerala. In a truck legally permitted to carry just six cattle there were 65. It was shocking to know that it was the norm for slaughterhouses in Kochi,” she said.

Interestingly, the fitness certificate issued by a veterinary surgeon based in Pollachi was for the transportation of just 16 cattle. “It could not have made through the Govindapuram check post with out paying bribes,” said B. Pradipkumar, president of the Kochi-based Karuna Animal Rescue Ministering and Management Association, an organisation working towards the well-being of animals.

Almost half the animals were on the verge of death after going through days-long transportation in extremely overcrowded situations without food and water. To make their condition even worse, the driver and the handlers had rubbed green chilly and tobacco into their eyes to keep them standing so that they did not fell asleep and fell upon each other. There were even calves and many had suffered wounds. The acid formation in their stomachs from the torture made the consumption of their meat poisonous, said Ms. Maulekhi.

At Ms. Maulekhi’s intervention, the hapless animals were rescued and a case was registered by the Ernakulam north police. “Torturing animals whether inside or outside the slaughterhouse is a cognizable offence punishable under the Indian Penal Code, Motor Vehicles Act, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. When charged under the IPC, it’s a crime punishable with imprisonment up to seven years. Selling the meat of tortured cattle is an even bigger crime,” Ms. Maulekhi said.

She commended the Kochi Corporation for acting promptly following the incident. Corporation secretary on Friday directed the health department officials of the civic body to be vigilant.

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