Beef Ban: "A Million Jobs Lost"

Maharashtra’s ban on the slaughter of bulls & bullocks will impact more than a million people. Most will have no option but to find alternative sources of income.

It has been 12 days since the state government of Maharashtra’s ban on the slaughter of bulls and bullocks for the production of beef came into effect.

The state administration has tried to ensure an almost overnight implementation of the ban as the slaughter was stopped in north-east Mumbai's Deonar Abattoir from March 3.

Deonar is one of Asia's largest slaughter houses with a capacity to produce a 1,00,000 kilos of beef a day. The facility, which was constructed in 1971, employs over 1,000 men (no women) and has provisions to house 600 bulls and buffaloes, 12,000 sheep and goats and 200 pigs.

The ban has also led to Mumbai’s 1,000 licensed beef traders shutting shop. Beef shops across the city now wear a deserted look and many have downed their shutters.

The traders have approached the Bombay High Court to request they be allowed to sell their remaining stock and to stay the implementation of the ban. Khalique Ahmed, Chairman, Bombay Suburban Beef Dealer’s Welfare Association says, “Even though the Bombay HC gave us temporary relief, the police and groups who are for the ban, have started harassing and seizing our livestock. Now we have petitioned to the HC that traders across the state should be provided a reasonable amount of time to dispose of the livestock.”

The Bombay High Court on March 11 has asked the state government to clarify the exact date from which the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 1995 which bans the slaughter of bullocks and bulls, came into force. The Court also observed that the industry be given time to cope with the ban.

Maharashtra has close to 150,000 cattle merchants in the beef trade who procure old and infirm cattle from farmers. The merchants pay anywhere from Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 25,000 for each animal which produces about 200 kilos of beef. These animals are purchased from the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) markets in Satara, Sangli and Sangamner and then sold to licensees in Mumbai.

These traders are now facing a loss going into millions of rupees as Mumbai is a huge market for beef due to a large number of restaurants—ranging from roadside stalls in the slums of Govandi to the five-star hotels that host expatriates and foreign tourists.

The beef industry also employs a large number of daily-wage labourers who help beef shops and butchers in the transportation and delivery of carcasses that come from the Deonar slaughter house. Loaders make on average of Rs. 300 a day and they have now been without work since March 3. Praveen, who works as a loader in Bandra’s Behram Nagar says, “This job helps me and my family of five to make do. I have not had any formal schooling so I don’t know where else to go for work. If the government has taken away my source of livelihood then I want them to provide an alternative”.

This refrain is heard across the board as protests are being planned as well as petitions being prepared to challenge the Bill, which the industry has termed “unfair, unjust and draconian”.

Beef Ban

Who's Affected ?How many?How much do they earn?
Shop Owners1000 (in Mumbai)NA
Loaders10,000 (in Mumbai)Rs. 300/day
Cattle Merchants1,50,000 (in Maharashtra)NA
Butchers4000 (in Mumbai)Rs. 400/day

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