Sulochana Pednekar is a Community Correspondent, a maternal health researcher and a Ph.D Scholar from Siolim village of Goa. Sulo, as we lovingly call her, has worked hard against poverty, inequality and has gained education by doing odd-jobs and getting scholarships. She continues to work hard even today, to balance community work and studies, “I mostly work on weekends as…
In Saligao village at Donvaddo, there is a drain alongside the road which lies clogged with the blood and entrails of slaughtered pigs. For many years now, the area’s local piggery has been a source of serious emotional and material distress to its neighbours.
Aside from the insupportable stench of excreta, rotting offal and the flamboyant disregard for any considerations of hygiene, the squeals of dying pigs at odd hours during the day are traumatising the entire community. This is especially disturbing in light of the slaughterhouse’s proximity to a school. Situated only 100 metres away is Lourdes Convent, and everyday its 1,600 young students have to jeopardise their physical and mental wellbeing in order to attend class.
Sulochana was shocked by the very experience of filming: “Even when I was moving around the area to record my video, the smell was unbearable. The owners themselves live in extremely unhygienic conditions. The drain is a breeding ground for mosquitoes; the organic waste used to feed the pigs attracts hoards of flies and cockroaches. Rodents also infest the area. To makes this worse, crows and eagles pick up rotting pig entrails and spread them all over the village, putting the whole community at risk.” Needless to say, this entire operation is illegal.
The Goa Animal Preservation Act of 1995 lays down some very stringent regulations for the meatpacking industry. In section 4 of the Act it is stipulated that, "no person shall slaughter or cause to be slaughtered any scheduled animal in any place in the state of Goa, unless he has obtained in respect of such animal, a certificate in writing from the competent authority that the animal is fit for slaughter". With its qualified staff and equipment, the Goa Meat Complex is the sole establishment which satisfies all requisites for the scientific and hygienic slaughter of animals. It charges private meat vendors a total of Rs. 400 for outsourcing their work.
Notwithstanding, there are at least 20–30 illicit abattoirs to be found in the state. In January of this year, authorities intercepted a truck transporting 42 pigs from Belgaum to Goa, and 8–10 animals are killed daily at the slaughterhouse in Saligao. The number can rise to 25 on weekends. This routine massacre has exposed the entire neighbourhood to various health hazards. While the worst affected are women and children who stay home during the day or attend school at Lourdes Convent, the situation is bad enough to trouble even a passersby.
Apart from the unsanitary and often imaginary disposal of animal offal, the locality is plagued by other unsavoury by-products of the business. Hotel garbage is brought in by the truckload to feed the pigs and then left to fester and decompose before being burnt. This residual waste often contains a lot of plastic, and the fumes emitted from its incineration pollute the entire atmosphere. The inferno then plays itself out to the grizzly soundtrack of pigs screaming from being shifted or slaughtered, from 5:00am to 8:00am and then again at night.
There have been several initiatives taken up by the community to request the owners to follow official guidelines in operating their business. The residents even tried to enlist the help of the parish priest in maintaining some semblance of hygiene in the area. All pleas have, however, fallen on deaf ears. The family remains staunch in its refusal to acknowledge its toxic effect on the environs. Through this video we hope to attract the attention of the Health Department, so that it can take appropriate action against the owners and put an end to their illegal and unsanitary activities.
The demands of the residents are fairly straightforward:
- The Health Department should conduct regular inspections of the piggery and enforce a strict adherence to government regulations. The import and slaughter of pigs and the burning of waste must be in accordance with the Solid Waste Management Rules of 2000.
- The Panchayat or Village Council should also inspect the compound on a regular basis and ensure an observance of protocol through its Garbage Sub-Committee.
- The local Panch member, Sarpanch (Headman) and MLA of the region should ascertain that these inspections and enforcements are carried out smoothly. Action needs to be taken immediately and effectively at the level of the Health Ministry and the Cabinet.
42 Pigs Rescued in Daring Night Case: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-01-12/goa/36296108_1_pigs-animal-rescue-squad-transport
Community Correspondent Sulochana Pednekar and Lara Chandni