Meat lovers of the capital are exposed to health risk as most of the animals are slaughtered in open space without health test, violating the Animal Slaughter (Restriction) and Meat Control Act (2011).
The law prohibits slaughtering animals in the open and also asks to ensure physical test and proper age of animals and hygiene of catering establishments for the public health safety.But the authorities of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) that are responsible for enforcing the law and protecting public health are not taking proper steps to address the problem.
Officials of the city corporations said they cannot ensure the health test and other facilities due to the lack of required number of slaughterhouses and veterinary officers, inspectors and other staffs.
They also said there are four veterinary officers and seven inspectors in Dhaka and the number of seal men, cleaners, mollahs and other helping hands are also very inadequate for serving a large number of meat sellers in the capital.
Dhaka needs at least 20 slaughterhouses and adequate number of veterinary officers, inspectors and other staffs to protect the public health, they said.
DNCC Veterinary Officer Sharmin Samad said, “We need at least 10 slaughterhouses under 10 zones of the city corporation, 10 veterinary officers, 10 inspectors and adequate supporting staffs to ensure the health test and other activities.” “Aside from the slaughterhouses, we have to carry out duties in markets to perform the health tests of ducks, hens, and pigeons. We are trying to turn around to serve the city dwellers,” she also said.
DSCC Veterinary Officer Dr SM Shofiqul Islam said they have only two veterinary officers and three inspectors to ensure the health test and conduct inspection of all animals slaughtered under the city corporation.“Two slaughterhouses are under construction. Now we are inspecting the markets to ensure safe animal meat,” he said.
Shofiqul Islam also stressed the need for more manpower and facilities of slaughterhouses.
Talking to the Daily Sun, DNCC Chief Executive Officer Selim Reza blamed butchers and meat caterers for the problem saying that they are not interested in using the slaughterhouses.
He also said, “Butchers and caterers are not in our existing slaughter houses. We are trying to motivate them to use the slaughterhouses.”
“We have a plan to build a modern slaughter houses and we have held some meeting with Food and Agriculture Organisation in this regard. Besides, we have made a requisition for some veterinary officers,” he added.
Asked, DSCC Chief Executive Officer Farid Ahmed said, “We have modernised two slaughterhouses at Kaptan Bazar and Hazaribag which will be opened soon. Besides, we are planning to build some new modern slaughterhouses under our jurisdiction.” He however did not clarify and give detail of the plan.
According to Bangladesh Meat Traders Association (BMTA), around 4, 000 animals mostly cows and goats are slaughtered in the capital every day. But sources of DSCC and DNCC said nearly 100 animals are slaughtered in the slaughterhouses under the city corporations.
Talking to the Daily Sun, General Secretary of BMTA Robiul Alam said due to the lack of slaughterhouses, they are forced to slaughter animals in the open places.
Demanding more slaughterhouse in the capital, he said, “We demanded a slaughterhouse near the Gabtoli cattle market, but the DNCC didn’t pay heed to our demand.”
Robiul also said, “Due to the lack of slaughterhouses the valuable remains of animals like teeth, bone and raw hide cannot be collected properly. If there had been some slaughterhouses the government could have made profit by importing the remains.”
There are five slaughterhouses located in Kaptan Bazar, Hazaribagh, Mohammadpur Kirshi Market, Mohakhali DNCC Market, Mirpur-11 Society Market under the two city corporations.
Officials of DSCC and DNCC said out of the five slaughterhouses, the three are out service for at least four years.
The slaughterhouses in Kaptan Bazar and Hazaribagh under DSCC have remained out of service due to a modernisation work under a project.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Project Director and Superintendent Engineer (Civil) of DSCC Munshi Md Abdul Hasem said their development work was about to finish.
“We have completed the 95 percent of the modernisation work and equipment is ready to be installed. We can inaugurate the slaughterhouses by two months,” he also said.
DNCC officials said Mohammadpur Krishi Market and Mirpur-11 Society Markets cater to only 100 meat sellers everyday because of the poor state of the slaughterhouses.
DNCC constructed Mohakhali Slaughterhouse at a cost of Tk 10 million and inaugurated it in 2018 but it was not opened for use until now.
DNCC Inspector Sheikh Akramul Kabir said, “The slaughterhouse might have not been opened for use due to a nearby Covid-19 hospital. When the pandemic will be over, it will be made a general hospital. So there is no chance of using the slaughter house.”
Officials said that the DNCC had taken a project to modernise the three slaughterhouses and building a new one at Gabtoli area in the capital, but it was not implemented.
Project Director and Superintending Engineer (Environment, Climate and Disaster Management) of the DNCC Tariq Bin Yousuf said, “The project was cancelled at the designing stage.” He refused to disclose the reason for cancelling the project.