In his first decisions, Yogi Adityanath after taking oath as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on March 19 directed top police officials to prepare action plan for closure of all illegal slaughterhouses running in the state with immediate effect.
The government went into crackdown mode after CM Adityanath’s order and began to shut down all illegal slaughterhouses which were running without necessary licences and for not following National Green Tribunal (NGT) guidelines.
Later, clearing confusion over its action against slaughterhouses, the Uttar Pradesh government said it was acting only against the illegal abattoirs.
“We are acting only against illegal abattoirs. Licenced slaughter houses are requested to stick to the norms,” Health Minister Siddhartha Nath Singh told reporters in Lucknow.
“What is being done in Uttar Pradesh is on illegal slaughter houses. We don’t want anything illegal. The Chief Minister has also said that the action is only against illegal slaughter houses,” Nirmala Sitharaman said during Question Hour replying to a supplementary asked by AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi on Monday.
Against Adityanath government’s decision to ban all illegal slaughter houses, meat sellers across the state went on an indefinite strike on March 27 but the state government made it clear that it will not allow illegal things in any case.
Some experts say that the decision taken by the Adityanath government is not good for state economy as it’s already in poor condition and the decision will also result in massive job loss.
According to UP Pollution Control Board based on NoCs issued, there are 72 government-approved abattoirs in India and 38 out of those 72 slaughter houses are in Uttar Pradesh.
Out of 38, four are government-run, and just two out of four based out of Agra and Saharanpur are functional. The remaining two are proposed in Lucknow and Bareilly. Hind Agro IMPP in Aligarh is one of the first plants set up in 1996.
Uttar Pradesh is the market leader in production and export of meat, but there is no record of illegal animal slaughter houses available in the state.
According to a report published in Times of India, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had informed National Green Tribunal (NGT) in April this year that only one out of 126 slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh was operating with valid permission and only 21 have effluent treatment plants on the premises.
NGT in January 2016 had issued notices to the Centre and state government over illegal slaughterhouses being run in the state, especially Aligarh, Ghaziabad, Sambhal and Bulandshahr.
A report in Hindustantimes.com says Uttar Pradesh is the highest producer of meat with 19.1 per cent share and the state accounts for nearly 50 per cent of India’s total meat exports.
Some media reports say the ban on illegal slaughterhouses will heavily affect the state’s economic health as meat exports account for Rs 26,685 crore annually. And a ban on meat exports would mean a loss of at least Rs 11,350 crores of revenue for the state. With this rate, the revenue loss will cross Rs 50,000 crore in the next five years.
As a result, more than 25 lakh people, who are indirectly or directly associated with the industry, will be affected because of UP government’s decision to close all illegal slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh.
Now the question arises that why should the government allow the slaughterhouses to run their businesses without having the license and without following the NGT guidelines?
In November 2015, Nitish Kumar government in Bihar had imposed a partial ban on liquor and it turned into total ban in April 2016 when the state government imposed blanket ban all kinds of liquor in the state.
Total liquor prohibition in Bihar dealt the state’s coffers Rs 5,400 crore in revenue losses from excise and value added tax (VAT), besides directly stripping around 35,000 people of their livelihood. Bihar almost 19 per cent of the state’s total revenue from its own sources in financial year 2015-16.
But financial prudence suggests the state compensate for revenue loss by other ways and means, including the imposition of cess, increasing the level of taxes.
The state government was fully geared to meet the revenue loss by increasing VAT on over 600 items. As a result, Bihar witnessed over 26 per cent growth in VAT collection, the highest in the country, in 2015-16.
According to a report in The Telegraph, Bihar government imposed and increased VAT on 600 items, including 5 per cent on saris priced over Rs 2,000 and textiles costing Rs 500 per metre or above and 13.5 per cent VAT on branded, packaged snacks like samosas, potato chips, peanuts and dry fruits.
The state governments would have got revenue from other sources, but the loss of jobs did have an auxiliary impact on the economy.
In Bihar, around 35,000 persons lost their livelihood and it affected their families also. Those selling snacks around liquor shops were also hit. A conservative estimate suggests they would number over 11,000.
The Adityanath government should have given a similar thought and followed the Bihar Model before taking such decisions to deal with revenue loss.
But, if we talk about job loss, even Nitish Kumar government in Bihar was not able to provide new job opportunities to those people who were employed in the liquor industry in the state.
The same happened in Uttar Pradesh where Chief Minister Adityanath didn’t think about the lakhs of people who were earning their livelihoods and many people have lost their jobs because of the sudden ban on illegal slaughterhouses. The state should have given them some time to either speed-up their license application or go into other business to continue their earnings
Before taking such decisions, the governments should first create new job opportunities for those people who are employed in these businesses and should give them preferential treatment by way of bank loans to help them start their own small ventures.
It’s perfectly fine if the governments do an advance planning to deal with the revenue loss by increasing taxes on other commodity items before taking such decisions. But, who will think about the people and their families who face unexpected job loss and get no help from the government?
With inputs from PTI