Mumbai: Toxic fumes at Deonar abattoir get suppliers' goat

They worry that smoke from the dumping ground nearby will affect the quality of meat; vets say it can give rise to a number of complications

Sayyed Jamil Khan is worried that his shipment of over 50 sheep from Rajasthan to the famous Deonar abattoir would go in vain. He fears that fumes from the raging fire at the 132-hectare dumping ground, barely 2 km away, will affect the sheep’s health and, thereby, the quality of meat.

Experts say prolonged exposure to toxic fumes at the Deonar abattoir, just 2 km from the dumping ground, is bound to affect animals’ health and the quality of meat
Experts say prolonged exposure to toxic fumes at the Deonar abattoir, just 2 km from the dumping ground, is bound to affect animals’ health and the quality of meat

“They are already tired by their transport over hundreds of miles. Now, the smoke is only making matters worse. When it affects people, it’s definitely bound to take a toll on the animals’ health as well,” contends the supplier.

Veterinary experts concur. They say high concentration of particulate matter and toxic fumes can affect animals as much as people. Dr DM Vaidya, assistant professor in the department of veterinary public health, Bombay Veterinary College, says toxic fumes and particulate matter can affect animals’ respiratory tract and lungs, and enter their immune system. “A number of complications can arise from such exposure to smoke.

Although the animals will not be infected with tuberculosis or cancer since they aren’t kept for long at the abattoir, they run the risk of contracting fungal infections, pneumonia and other airborne diseases.”

Another veterinary expert says since the animals are transported over long distances, their strength is at an ebb; the presence of toxic fumes will only weaken their immune system further. “That will definitely affect the quality of meat because the animal wouldn’t have been fit enough in the first place to be slaughtered. Besides, animals are tested for diseases and infections when they arrive at the abattoir, but if they are not slaughtered by a stipulated period, then they can get infected.”

Abattoir authorities, though, have no such misgivings. Yogesh Shettye, general manager of the Deonar abattoir — one of the largest slaughterhouses in the country which handles over 4,000 goats, sheep and buffaloes daily — claims that the dumping ground is too far away to affect the animals’ health. “Smoke rarely reaches here. There is no issue of smoke affecting the health of animals or the quality of meat.”

Workers of the abattoir as well as visitors, however, point out that the smoke from the dumping ground is often blown in by winds.

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