Director of Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), Varda Mehrotra, on May 16 said in a statement that the Kolkata carcass meat scandal would create awareness among people about the health risks of meat consumption.
This statement came after an inter-state racket selling carcass meat for more than five years was discovered. Meat recovered from dead animals in dumping grounds across Kolkata and neighbouring districts was sold as edible meat.
After the racket came to light, eateries and restaurants faced a significant drop of footfall. There has been a massive decrease in the sale of raw, processed and cooked meat.
Carcass meat scam
The racket was detected on April 20 at Budge Budge in South 24 Parganas district, about 28 kilometres from Kolkata, when two people were arrested for transporting dead animals from the dump yard. Further investigations led to the seizure of 1,000 packets of processed dead meat, each weighing 20 kilograms from a cold storage in Rajabazar.
The police have also arrested ten more people, including a political leader and 62-year-old former councillor of Multidisciplinary Training Centre, Manik Mukhopadhyay, in connection with the racket.
On April 25, the police arrested Sunny Mullick, the alleged mastermind of the racket, from Bihar.
The investigation revealed that municipal staffers were paid Rs 50 to Rs 100 for information on dead animals. Superintendent of Police Koteshwar Rao said, “The network picked up dead animals from dump yards and, after processing them with certain chemicals, sent the meat to markets and restaurants.”
The investigation, the first of its kind in Bengal, created a stir because carcasses of all types of animals, ranging from cows to cats left to decompose in dumping grounds were being packaged and sold.
As the carcass meat scandal intensified with many cold storages across Kolkata and neighbouring districts being cracked down, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee formed a committee of top government and police officials including the director general of state police, the commissioner of Kolkata police, and the principal secretaries of health, animal husbandry, panchayat, and urban development departments.
The committee would be responsible for formulating a scientific mechanism for disposal of animal carcasses and draft policies to ensure the quality of food sold in markets and eateries. CM Mamata Banerjee said, “This operation was not confined to Bengal. It had spread to other states also. The discovery has spread panic and many people have stopped having meat. The government will deal with this.”
“Hopefully this situation can bring awareness”: FIAPO director
FIAPO director said, “Meat being sourced from rotten bodies of cats, dogs and even diseased animals in unhygienic conditions is not uncommon. Animals bred for the purpose of meat are routinely given antibiotics, growth hormones and other drugs and their meat may contain these drugs with many viruses and bacteria. “Hopefully this situation can bring awareness.”
He added, “With the extraordinary increase in lifestyle diseases, from kidney disease to heart disease, maybe it is time we re-look at our diet…to move towards a greener diet over one including animal products.”