Last Updated: Friday 10 July 2015

Slaughter, too, has its standards

The suggestion made by N S Ramaswamy, former chairperson of the Animal Welfare Board, that slaughterhouses be shifted to wastelands in rural areas, has been endorsed in the article Caught by the horns (June 15, 1994). Lack of water is a major criteria in determining so-called "wastelands". If so, how will the huge water requirements for cattle be met?

Last year, the department of animal husbandry and Dairy issued a circular to all the states and Union territories, drawing their attention to standards covering such areas as transporting animals to the slaughterhouses, with at least 24 hours rest and feed. Other standards provide for compulsory medical examination of slaughterhouse workers, who are also supposed to be provided with gumboots and protective clothing and clean-up facilities.

We believe that the states and Union territories may not even have procured copies of this circular, let alone do anything towards implementation. Workers' facilities are absent even in cities. Similarly, nothing is done to fulfill the elaborately detailed inspection requirements for ante and post mortem. Salmonella and other bacteria tests remain non-existent.

We fully agree that the Delhi slaughterhouse should serve as an example which complies with all the standards as applicable in letter and spirit. ...

Red about tomatoes

The totally Indian NGO-like approach of your magazine to the genetically engineered tomato Flavr Savr (July 15, 1994) was disappointing. Raising objections without adequate scientific proof or appraisal and making sweeping statements does not speak well of the "scientific temper" which your fortnightly is supposed to propagate.

Whatever be our reservations about the US and all its institutions, one has to accept that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is far superior to any of our institutions of science. Witness the substandard products being doled out for consumption under the state-controlled public distribution system, the ISI and Agmark. Again, not even a scientific assessment can certify that naturally occurring grains or fruits are totally safe. And all that Flavr claims is that it does not spoil as fast as the naturally occurring varieties do!

As for the mention of the pig gene and of the "tomato war" by Rifkin, the world is never short of God's direct representatives. There is no place for them in science where a gene is a gene. ...

Roaring for nothing

This is with reference to the article Relocating lions, cautiously (July 31, 1994). Without estimating the carrying capacities of the Gir forests, the Darrah, Sitamata and Kumbhalgarh sanctuaries and the Desert National Park, a decision has been taken to relocate the lions -- on the absurd premise that the lions face extinction by being concentrated at a single site. A similar attempt was made in the mid-'50s, when 3 lions were introduced into Chandraprabha in Uttar Pradesh. It is claimed that the lion population there rose to 11. However, in a very short period, they disappeared without trace.

There are other equally endangered animals concentrated in one place. For instance, the Indian wild ass is in its last abode in the little Rann of Kutch. Nobody is bothered about them. It appears that the relocation of the Asiatic lion is being vigorously pursued by some people with some personal motive and not in the interest of wildlife.

I fully agree with wildlife expert Fateh Singh Rathod that a thorough study of these areas should be made before translocation is implemented. ...

Who will blunt the axe?

In July, 1993, the Orissa government's notice of an official motion to reduce the Balukhand sanctuary by 576.13 acres -- to set up a luxury hotel complex on the Puri-Konarak beach -- was withdrawn because of strong opposition from Assembly members of both sides. The government also tried to move a non-official motion through a ruling party member to reduce the area of the Bhitarkanika sanctuary in this session, but it could not muster any strength. At least for the present, therefore, both the motions have been stalled.

However, indiscriminate tree felling continues on the Sambalpur-Rourkela state highway without environmental clearance from the ministry of environment and forests. We are pained that hundreds of trees -- more than a century old -- have been felled on both sides of the highway. Environmental clearance for such felling should be given in such a manner that old trees can be saved as far as possible and new plants of local species planted along the sides of the newly aligned road. ...

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