Special Correspondent

Thiruvananthapuram: The notice issued by the State Pollution Control Board (PCB) on Wednesday to close down the City Corporation's slaughterhouse at Kunnukuzhy has dealt a heavy blow to the civic body.

The PCB notice was issued in response to a Supreme Court directive asking civic bodies to adhere to the basic environmental safeguards prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board for abattoirs. PCB Environmental Engineer Govindan Nair said all the 27 slaughterhouses in Kerala that were issued notice on Wednesday, had failed to meet the prescribed standards for effluent treatment and disposal of waste.

" The local bodies were required to fulfil the conditions by February this year but we extended the period for one more month. After they failed to make any progress, we served a closure notice and followed it up with a show cause notice. With the apex court insisting on stringent action, we had no option but to order closure," Mr. Nair said.

Corporation officials said the Kunnukuzhy slaughterhouse had received a certificate from the PCB this year. Mr. Nair however pointed out that the certificate was conditional. Members of the Corporation's Health standing committee said the functioning of the Kunnukuzhy abattoir was severely affected by the Vigilance investigation into a modernisation project implemented in 1999 at a cost of Rs.1.25 crore. They said the files relating to the modernisation project had been in possession of the Vigilance department for over five years. The modernisation project was embroiled in controversy following allegations of corruption. "Even routine repair and maintenance jobs cannot be carried out as officials are reluctant to do anything that might be construed as tampering with evidence," a senior councillor said. The major portion of the daily demand for meat is met by unhygienic slaughter sheds attached to the city markets. Animals are butchered on the premises of hotels and houses at various places in the city in violation of public health safeguards. The Government has issued orders directing local bodies to enforce the ban on unauthorised slaughter.