Kerala has many firsts to boast in India and consumption of meat is just one of them. According to an estimate by the animal husbandry department a year ago, in a state where 95 per cent of the people are non-vegetarians, the daily consumption is 5,034.96 tonnes of various kinds of meat. As per the figures, beef is the most popular meat consumed by Keralites, accounting for 1,99,788 tonnes a year, closely followed by poultry at 1,83,612 tonnes. Nowhere in the picture in terms of comparable volume are the other two popular meats—mutton that sells only 18,935 tonnes and pork, 13,940 tonnes.
The state government in a recent crackdown identified 298 unauthorised abattoirs of which 248 have been issued notice while the police have filed case against another 20. This thriving industry accounted over eight million cattle coming into the state in 2009-10, of which only six million were accounted for. The numbers are expected to have risen drastically in the ensuing years. Experts point to the large intake of unhygienic meat as one of the reasons for the mushrooming cases of impotency, alarming rise in incidence of cancer as also the number of young lives being snuffed out by lifestyle diseases.
If the state was brave enough to pull the shutters on 418 bars, despite the inevitable pressure from the mighty liquor lobby, it is food for thought as to why the administration does not crack down on the illegal abattoirs as, by virtue of the unhygienic meat supplied by them, they are as much merchants of death as the suppliers of spurious alcohol are in a state that boasts exacting standards in human indices. Kerala claims it has 60 registered and three scientific abattoirs out of 796 that now function. However, the actual number of unlicensed abattoirs would be at least double this. Therefore, the state government will have to go way beyond the announcement that it will set up 10 more scientific abattoirs, if it is serious about addressing this massive health hazard.