In the wake of UP government’s clampdown on illegal slaughterhouses,mechanised abattoirs and unlicensed meat shops, the Rs 60,000 meat and leather sector has taken a hit.
A delegation of Mumbai-based All India Meat & Live Exporters Association (AIMLEA), an umbrella body of registered meat exporters, was in Lucknow seeking a fair chance from chief minister Yogi Adityanath to present their side of story. AIMLEA general secretary Fauzan Alavi discusses the prevailing confusion in UP in a conversation with Namita Bajpai. Excerpts:
Q. The government has made it clear that action will be taken against illegal slaughterhouses only. Where is the confusion?
A. We welcome the closure of illegal slaughterhouses. We are worried because there is no clarity from the CM’s office. We want clarity about our present status. Action should be taken only against the illegal slaughterhouses, but the chief secretary, in a statement, said that there would be a blanket ban on legal ones also.
Q. Are legal meat plants also facing closure in UP?
A. The authorities are swooping down on legal plants also. So far, four such legal plants, including two in Meerut and one each in Bijnore and Saharanpur, have been closed down during the past four days over petty reasons. All these plants have been running for the last 15-16 years. Ironically, before initiating the closure, no show-cause notice is being issued to owners.
Q. What is the magnitude of losses ever since this issue was included in BJP manifesto?
A. UP has around 45 legal mechanised abattoirs — all 100% export units. The losses we have suffered must be to the tune of over Rs 4,000 crore as huge off-shore orders have been cancelled during the past one and half months since the BJP made it their poll issue.
Q. How big is the workforce involved in the meat industry in UP?
A. In UP, the direct workforce is around five lakh. If we go into the distribution, around 25 % are Qureshi Muslims, 40% OBC Hindus and rest 35% from all castes and communities who look after managerial, accounting and engineering responsibilities. So, 1,500 people per plant will go jobless immediately if a plant closed.
Q. Are you contemplating any legal recourse?
A. No, we do not want to fight with the government. We only want clarity from the CM’s office about our present status and our future. We want to know if our licences will be renewed or not as our fate hangs in balance.