Source: The New York Times
MEERUT, India — When Uttar Pradesh’s state government began a crackdown on unlicensed slaughterhouses in March, Sanjay Chaturvedi, a local veterinary inspector, celebrated. For years, Mr. Chaturvedi said, the government had protected the lucrative, predominantly Muslim-owned buffalo meat business, making it difficult for him to enforce environmental codes.
But Mr. Chaturvedi has spent the past two months watching the local economy collapse. And now he is beginning to worry.
Of the 10 slaughterhouses and meat-processing factories operating in March on the stretch of road he patrols in Meerut, seven have shut down, putting much of the local population — 10,000 people, by his estimate — out of work. Migrant workers have packed up. Factory owners are defaulting on bank loans.
What alarms him most, he said, is the government’s recent announcement of stringent new regulations effectively banning the sale of cattle — a category that includes buffaloes as well as cows — for slaughter. The rules threaten to all but cut off the supply of animal products for the lucrative leather and buffalo meat industries, which together account for about $10 billion in annual exports. In April, exports of buffalo meat were down by 11.4 percent over the previous year, bringing an abrupt halt to years of double-digit growth, according to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.