Carcass meat racket in Kolkata: Why civic authorities must admit it's their fault

Emerging details prove running the racket could not have been possible without the aid of insiders.

 |  3-minute read |   02-05-2018
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While the people of West Bengal are waking up to carcass meat on their plate and the police are cracking down on units associated with the processed meat industry, the bigger picture remains bleak.

The dumping yards in and around Kolkata and adjoining districts are breeding grounds for illegal activities. The fact that it is so easy to source animal carcass from these dumping grounds reveals how lax the civic authorities have been. It is the sheer failure of the civic authorities that they could actually afford to turn a blind eye to such an industry flourishing right under their nose, taking advantage of their apathy.

Kolkata has always been famous for its cheap but good quality street food. But thanks to the neglect of the civic authorities, the sale of meat has nosedived and the scare has spread to neighbouring states which are dependent on West Bengal for meat.

meat-1_inside_050118061725.jpgRepresentative image (Reuters)

According to reports, on April 19, the locals of Budge Budge (near Kolkata) suspected animal meat smuggling when a taxi driver sought help from locals and they found carcass meat inside the taxi. But that the meat is actually a part of an industry whose end products reach restaurants and shops across the state and neighbouring countries was beyond imagination. A worker of Budge Budge municipality and that taxi driver were arrested and they took the lid off the organised racket, which was running in connivance with people in power.

Following a night-long raid at a Kolkata cold storage facility, the police found about 20 tonnes of carcass meat, packed to be sold to hotels and restaurants. The fake meat market is spread across Odisha, Bihar, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Racket has neat operations: Can’t be a new one

Various reports have revealed the neat and foolproof modus operandi of the racket. They have informers at the dumpyards. As soon as a carcass is dumped, the informers do their job and the carcass gets transported to the cold storage in the heart of the city. The meat is then processed for five days. This is mixed with fresh meat and put in small packets bearing the names of local companies.

About 10 people have been arrested so far who have admitted that the meat was mostly of cats or dogs. There has been no scientific confirmation yet as the meat has been chemically processed, which also proves how organised the racket is, and how impossible it must be to run a racket like this without the aid of the insiders, mostly those from within the municipality.

meat_050118061742.jpgRepresentative image (Reuters)

Scare leads to slump in meat sales

The racket has put all eateries, irrespective of their size, fame and business, on the radar. Meat sales have gone down. The Hotel and Restaurants’ Association of Eastern India has asked eateries to purchase meat only from registered suppliers.

Waking up too late

The scare has led to a flurry of activity. A number of probe teams have been set up at different levels. Now, the civic authorities are planning to barricade the dump yards to restrict outsiders’ entry. Electronic surveillance is also being mulled. It is also being planned that dump yards which do not have incinerators will have a demarcated area where animal carcasses would be burnt.

But what took the civic authorities so long to discharge their basic responsibilities? Also, there should have been surprise checks and visits to the cold-storage facilities and ice factories. 

If the arrest of 10 people laid bare details about the operations of the years-long racket, it should not have been impossible for the civic body to act in time.

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