The myriad traditional delicacies of Lucknow that have attracted food connoisseurs from across the globe for ages face the impending threat of disappearance.
Most of the famous restaurants in the city are already feeling the pinch because of the cascading impact of the ban on illegal slaughterhouses and the closure of unlicensed meat shops across the state.
In Lucknow alone, more than 5,000 such shops that had been doing brisk business without licence seem to have shuttered following the administration's crackdown.
Murga Mandis wear a deserted look as meat traders have gone on an indefinite strike. Wholesalers are not buying chicken from farmers who have the supply ready.
The restaurants in turn are reeling under acute shortage of mutton and poultry items.
MD Uttam, who owns an open-air restaurant near the Press Club in Lucknow, did brisk business till the swearing-in of Yogi Adityanath as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
|Firoz Sheikh had taken a loan of Rs 6 lakh to start a poultry farm. He says that there has been no demand for his chicken ever since Yogi Adityanah (above) took oath. Photo: PTI|
As the crackdown on slaughterhouses and meat shops started the very next day, the supply to his restaurant started dwindling. Uttam has no choice but to turn down his regular customers.
Before the government's latest dictate, customers would throng the restaurant for Chicken Masala, kebabs and Biryani.
At Dastarkhan, the adjacent open restaurant, the situation is similarly gloomy.
The other side of the picture is, perhaps, more distressing.
With no takers for poultry, farmers are headed for troubled times.
A delegation of poultry farmers is making desperate attempts so the state takes stock of their plight and submitted a memorandum to the CM on March 25.
FM Sheikh, the chief coordinator of Apex Broilers Co-Ordination committee, UP indicated that more than one crore chickens are ready to be supplied to the market, but with most of the shops closed, there are no takers for their poultry.
The chickens have an average lifespan of 40 days and since the small shops account for almost 95 percent of the demand, farmers are faced with a zero-demand scenario.
With the mercury rising, they face the threat of losing the poultry they had reared over the last 30 to 35 days.
More than one crore chickens in Lucknow will go waste if there is no demand in the next couple of days.
Mohammed Firoz Sheikh, the Awadh Poultry association president, said that more than 5,000 big and small shops in Lucknow had been closed poultry farmers were left with no choice. "There is no demand for our chicken," he says. Sheikh had taken a loan of Rs 6 lakh to start a poultry farm.
Aslam Zaidi, president of poultry farmers cooperative society, UP indicated that more than 20 lakh people are engaged in the poultry industry, including those supplying fodder and medicines, besides those engaged in culling and selling the meat.
He indicated that a crackdown on the meat shops will spiral into a monumental loss of jobs. Zaidi has to repay a loan of Rs 30 lakh and has a stock of one lakh chicken with no demand.
The day the swearing in took place the farmers sold their chicken at Rs 92 a kilo, but today they won't get buyers even if they sold the produce at Rs 70 a kilo.
The cost of production per chicken including feed amounts to roughly Rs 75 to Rs 80 a bird, weighing approximately a kilo.
Needless to say, the alarm bells have been sounded for UP's poultry farmers.
Wholesale markets have similarly borne the brunt of the shutdown of meat shops and slaughterhouses.
On the other hand, restaurant owners are yet to come to terms with the paucity of poultry.
Direct procurement from farmers is not possible on a wide scale as the meat shop owners are a vital link in the trading chain.
Will the precious delicacies that make Lucknow famous now vanish from their counters?