Kolkata: The ban on cattle sale across the country has subsided the market supply of buffaloes. Also with a subsequent litigation, the final nail in the coffin was planted for India’s first fully automated abattoir in Tangra. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation was forced to shut in down earlier in May.
The state-of-the-art abattoir had opened its doors in December 2012. But operations suffered a blow since December 2016 with a sharp drop in supply of cattle from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana. Supply from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar virually stopped in the following months.
According to an estimate by the KMC’s health department, the abattoir had a steady supply of 800 buffaloes every day till the rise of cow vigilantism in the northern states. The count dropped to 200 per day after the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls in March.
The trend continued for the next month and a half, forcing the civic authorities to give it a second thought as the new facility was far from reaching break-even. A litigation over the tender procedure of running the abattoir was the last call.
Spread over a 1.8-acre plot on the eastern fringes of the city, the automated abattoir with a capacity to store and slaughter 1,200 large animals every day made it convenient for the meat-sellers and paved the way for hygienic supply of meat in the city. It also paved the way for the closure of the century-old abattoir at Tangra where large animals are still slaughtered manually without any health check-up.
The construction cost was Rs 25 crore, one of the highest in India.
One of the many reasons why the new abattoir became popular was the presence of veterinary surgeons at every stage — right from the animal’s arrival till the time when the carcass was chopped into pieces for transportation.
Meat from the abattoir was also being transported in air-conditioned vehicles instead of hand-pulled carts. The abattoir also had the latest machinery for slaughtering and processing meat.
The initiative to set up the unit was taken up by the KMC health department after the Unionfood processing ministry agreed to fund a part of the project cost. Reacting to the news of the closure, mayor Sovan Chatterjee said he would look into the matter.