Consumption of beef in Goa is known to be on the higher side as compared to other states in the country with the meat of around 300 to 325 bovines being consumed on a daily basis.
However, the Goa Meat Complex (GMC) with its modern abattoir at Usgao legally slaughters just around 65 to 70 animals for human consumption, with the remaining being slaughtered in various places in the state.
Also the meat is being imported from across the border either legally or illegally.
Sources said that Catholic dominated Salcete consumes above 40 per cent of the beef produced in the state. Interestingly, as per the information from the GMC, around 30 bovines are being brought at the Usgao abattoir from Salcete traders for slaughtering.
So, obviously, the beef requirement of Salcete is being met by bring it from Belgaum. Hence, there are chances that the beef eaters are consuming the meat that is being obtained by illegally slaughtering the cattle or at times produced from unhealthy and dead animals.
‘The Navhind Times’ gathered that there are at least five places in Margao and its outskirts, where the animals are being slaughtered illegally.
And, what really encourages such illegalities is the tedious process the butchers need to follow, including undergoing the health check, ante mortem, post mortem etc, to slaughter the animals legally at GMC, Usgao, even though the fees are reasonable.
And, perhaps these are the reasons that force the stall owners and local butchers to slaughter the animals locally without the knowledge of the GMC.
There are reports that bovines are being slaughtered at the SGPDA market, Khareband, Gandhi Market and in Benaulim during the wee hours by the local butchers, allegedly by greasing the palms of the concerned authorities.
However, when this reporter contacted the officials of the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department, Health Department and police, they denied it. They instead passed the buck on to others.
While, the director of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services (AH&VS), Dr B Braganza, said, “Police are also equally responsible for the increase in illegal slaughtering,” the police on the other hand said that “the doctors at the Animal Husbandry are the appropriate authority to raid the illegal slaughtering with the police assistance and that they cannot blame the police.”
A health official from the Margao Urban Health Centre and the officials from the Food and Drug Administration also claimed that they are not the direct authorities to check the illegal slaughtering of animals.
“There is a special committee constituted by the AH&VS Department to check the illegal slaughtering of animals. They have to put efforts and interest to control the illegal slaughtering and to give healthy meat to the consumers by bringing the animals for slaughtering at the official slaughtering house with certifications. They play a very responsible role in the society besides their official obligations,’’ commented a social activist.
A consumer, Mr Jose Manuel Crasto, from Margao said that there has to be a mechanism to instantly check the meat when the consumer complains.
“What we see is the lack of appropriate system in place to check such illegalities and what compounds the problem is the greed of few of the officials concerned who are least bothered about the quality of the sold meat,’’ he added.
Explaining further, he said that if they complained to the MMC, the answer is that they cannot check it.
Animal rights activist claimed that “many a times animals are ill treated, left hungry, prior to the slaughtering (including in the open). The slaughtering houses are not kept clean.” Despite being well aware of the ongoing illegalities in Salcete, none of these officials dare to bell the cat.
“We get complaints that the animals are being slaughtered in the wee hours, but we directly cannot raid them,’’ said the director of Food and Drug Administration, Mr Salim Valjee, and an official of the Urban Health Centre, Margao.
Sources in the Directorate of AH&VS informed that there are incidents wherein information of raids are being leaked to the butchers in advance by some of the action-taking team members and hence they are proved helpless.
Interestingly, the Salcete taluka in-charge of the AH&VS, Dr S M Naik, said that they have acted tough, whenever there were complaints To justify his statement, he recalled the incident of having arrested 12 persons, who were later released, for slaughtering bovines at Khareband, Margao, illegally on the occasion of Eid.
The director of AH&VS, Dr Braganza, however, said that raiding and controlling illegalities is not impossible if all the authorities concerned work in tandem.
He recalled how a truckload of unhealthy and illegally slaughtered cattle meat was checked at the Goa- Belgaum boarder a couple of years ago and the persons were booked under the law and over 30 tonne of meat was destroyed.
He said they booked these persons to avoid selling of rotten meat to the consumers, even though these butchers tried their political influence to release their vehicle at the border.
Dr Braganza said that the imported meat is checked at the border and the end point at the cold storages and at the stalls by the officials of the AH&VS. “Their certificates are checked. The received quota is also checked and if a stall owner or beef seller is found selling unhealthy meat, it is instantly destroyed and the person is booked,’’ he added.
A butcher from Belgaum, who supplies meat to Salcete beef stalls alleged that he pays to the concerned authorities for ignoring the thorough checking and smooth transportation.
He, however, solemnly stated that they never ever slaughtered dead or half dead or ill bovines for human consumption. [NT]