Amount realised will be distributed among investors proportionately
Only three years ago, the cost of a pair of emus hovered around Rs. 35,000. Now, a fully-grown emu is priced at just Rs. 55.
After the scam involving emu farms, the bird has apparently become a casualty, not valued even on a par with the cost incurred for its daily food expense. On Thursday, the Revenue Department had no other option but to auction 747 emus at the inevitable price to a solitary bidder. For the department, which is entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of 8,000 birds, disposing them of at the first opportunity seemed a better option. The department is spending a minimum of Rs. 30 a day for maintaining an emu, a senior official said, adding that the amount realised from the auction would be distributed to the investors proportionately.
It was only after intense persuasion by the Revenue authorities that the buyer representing VR3 Emu Farms and Hatchery Unit based in Dindigul district (who had a few months earlier bought close to 2,000 emus at a similar auction for Rs. 235 per bird) agreed to Rs. 55 per bird. Initially, the buyer did not budge for quite a while to change his stand on pricing a bird at Rs. 20. The buyer has found clientele for emu meat in Dindigul district where it is sold for around Rs. 50 per kg.
After dressing, an emu fetches about 10 kg of meat. But, a lot of money needs to be spent on feeding the birds until they are slaughtered. Hence, the returns are not certain, the proprietor of the firm J. Rajaraaj said.
On the earlier occasion, he sold 1,000 birds at Perundurai in Erode for Rs. 50 a kilogram, and took the rest of the emus to Dindigul.
According to an investor who approached the District Revenue Officer S. Ganesh to give a complaint against an emu farm owner based in Chennimalai near here, the returns would be much higher through a policy correction by the government. Rather than auctioning the birds, the government would be able to realise much higher amounts in the interests of duped investors by taking steps for direct sale of emu meat during weekends throughout the State. At a time when broiler chicken is sold for Rs. 120 per kilogram, patronage for emu meat was bound to rise since there is already awareness among the people about the rich protein content in it, he said.
Meanwhile, an official of Economic Offences Wing said the complaint by the investors in the Chennimalai emu farm would be scrutinised for further action.