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Published in the 16-30 Nov 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Delhi abattoir politics

New Delhi: The Supreme Court directed the MCD on 11 October to shift Old Delhi’s Idgah abattoir to Ghazipur by January 2005. The civic agency is in a hurry to meet the SC’s deadline, so it has started constructing a temporary plant, and the permanent one will come up later.

The SC decision to shift the abattoir has created a large scale political row. But none of the politicians opposing the construction of abattoir at Ghazipur have approached the court asking for an alternative site. Even if a new site is identified, permission of the SC will be required to go ahead with any relocation. 

The SC had ordered MCD on 14 July 2004 to relocate the abattoir to Ghazipur. The court observed that the abattoir was situated in a densely populated area and it was an environmental hazard. In its earlier order, the court had only asked for its modernisation. When the project was being commissioned, organisations and politicians started protesting. MPs, MLAs and councillors of east Delhi are against an abattoir at Ghazipur. They argue that the abattoir was ordered to be moved out from Qasabpura because it was situated in a densely populated area and the same is the condition of East Delhi as nearly 33 percent of the city’s population lives here only on its one-tenth land. Delhi Finance Minister AK Walia and some other Congress leaders are against the new the abattoir at Ghazipur. These people are trying to thwart the court order in the name of public opinion. 

Another angle was added to the controversy when Air Chief Marshall, S Krishnawamy in a letter to Delhi chief minister recently opposed the construction of abattoir at Ghazipur saying it would lead to proliferation of bird population in the area. The birds would be hazardous to the aircrafts operating out of Hindon air base. MCD commissioner, Rakesh Mehta, replied to this saying that the new abattoir would be a completely sealed and refrigerated plant, so it would not attract birds. The number of birds at Ghazipur would actually decrease, he claimed. 

Delhi cabinet was forced to take a decision for an alternative site for the abattoir after repeated appeals of area MLAs and residents of Ghazipur. 
In yet another addition to the abattoir controversy, officials at the National Zoological Park have written to Minister Walia and Delhi chief secretary against situating the abattoir near Millennium Park, a stone throw away from the zoo. The letter said that locating the abattoir close to the zoo would attract kites and other birds of prey, increasing the probability of transmission of air-borne diseases at the zoo whose officials claim that no matter how modern the abattoir may be, it will generate filth and waste. A senior official said in case filthy water and animal blood flows into the zoo premises during rains it would be disastrous for the health of the animals of the zoo. 

MG News Desk

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