Mutton prices may go up again

Sandeep Joshi

MCD plans drive against all illegal meat shops

NEW DELHI: Mutton rates that have already increased from Rs.100 per kg to Rs.150 per kg in the past few months, mainly due to the bird flu scare, may witness another steep hike soon as the Municipal Corporation of Delhi is planning a citywide drive against all unlicensed and illegal meat shops across the Capital from March 18 in the wake of a recent Delhi High Court order.

Like the rest of the country, in Delhi too the rates of meat are steadily increasing while the prices of poultry have seen a declining trend. In the past three months alone, the rate of mutton has increased by about Rs.30 per kg, while the price of poultry (un-dressed chicken) has fallen to around Rs.30 per kg from around Rs.50 before the bird flu scare.

And now with the MCD's Health Department planning a massive drive against all illegal meat shops, meat prices might further increase. There are around 1,700 licensed meat shops in the city, while over 5,000 illegal and unlicensed shops are also operating in the Capital with the connivance of MCD and Delhi police officials.

"These illegal shops cater to almost 75 per cent of the city's meat demand and if any action is initiated against them, there will a steep shortfall in the supply leading to an increase in meat prices. Illegal shops mostly operate in Old Delhi areas and also from localities falling in the city's outskirts including Najafgarh, Mehrauli, Seemapuri, Sultanpuri, Okhla, Ambedkar Nagar, Shahdara, Uttam Nagar and Loni," said a senior MCD official.

Meanwhile, the civic body's Health Department has already started gearing up for the citywide exercise. "We are identifying areas where all such illegal meat shops are operating. We will not only seal illegal shops but also take action against those licensed sops owners who are found not selling meat as per laid norms and in unhygienic conditions. We are formulating a strategy and will start the drive from this weekend," informed MCD's Additional Commissioner (Health) Manoj Parida.

On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court had directed the MCD to ensure that all meat shops running in violation of the prescribed norms were closed down within the next four weeks. It also asked the civic body to file particulars of a court order of 2001 wherein illegal meat shops were banned across the Capital.