Wednesday June 19, 2024

Skyrocketing prices of sacrificial animals keep buyers at bay

By Ali Raza
June 09, 2024
A representational image showing sacrificial animals at a makeshift cattle market established ahead of  Eidul Azha. — PPI/File
A representational image showing sacrificial animals at a makeshift cattle market established ahead of  Eidul Azha. — PPI/File

LAHORE: Owing to prevalent avarice in society, Eidul Azha, a festival of great spiritual importance, has turned into an event of commercial activity and the very spirit of sacrifice seems to have diminished over the last many years.

People involved in selling sacrificial animals are seen going beyond all limits of decency by demanding the sky-rocketing prices of the sacrificial animals, which have gone beyond the reach of the common man. The sellers are demanding prices of their own choice, sans a government regulatory mechanism. According to a survey conducted by The News on Saturday, as many as 500,000 sacrificial animals are slaughtered in the city on every Eidul Azha. Out of the total number of sacrificial animals, 350,000 are smalls animals - goats and sheep, while the rest of them are big animals, like cows, calves, camels, etc, says an official of the District Government Octroi Department.

This year the price of a normal size goat is starting from Rs 45,000 to Rs 90,000, a lamb/sheep from Rs 35,000 to Rs 75,000 and a cow/calf from Rs 125,000 to Rs 250,000 in most of the city markets.

The sellers of sacrificial animals said the price hike was the main reason for high prices of animals this year. M Sharif, a seller from Rahim Yar Khan, said that rise in transportation charges, cost of breeding animals and bribe collected by the police and district administration had led to the increase in the animals’ prices.

He complained that police had charged him Rs 500 to Rs 1000 per animal in the name of Eidi at every picket on his way from Rahim Yar Khan to Lahore.

Aslam Khan, a seller from Burewala, said the price of green fodder had gone up. He said the fare of one truck from Burewala to Lahore had increased by almost 300 per cent.

The increased prices of the animals will add to the financial burden of salaried and low income groups of the society, and, probably, most of them would not be able to perform the religious ritual.

Undoubtedly, the general price hike is also a big factor behind the hike in the animal’s prices, but the ‘vicious’ wish of the sellers to make the most of the religious festivals is also adding to the suffering of the general public. The government’s failure in controlling the prices has aggravated the problem, leaving the people helpless.

Generally, Eidul Azha is considered more expensive than Eidul Fitr as people have to purchase sacrificial animal in addition to new clothes, shoes, etc, for children and other family members.

Unlike past, people seem to be less enthusiastic about shopping on the Eid this year. “We are not getting much response from the people, though Eid is round the corner,” said Arshar Shah, a garments seller at the Panorama centre. He said that as compared with Eidul Fitr a number of shoppers have decreased on the eve of Eidul Azha. When asked, a number of other shopkeepers expressed the same views.

Iqbal Haider, owner of a mobile phone shop at Samanabad, said that the main topic of discussion at home was how to buy a sacrificial animal. The prices of the animals had increased but the income was the same, he added.

Usman Tahir, a resident of Faisal Town, said that white-collar citizens are facing the real dilemma as they wanted to buy the animals to fulfill their religious obligation but could not afford it now. The role of middleman in the supply of sacrificial animals has also resulted in increase of the prices, pushing the animal’s purchase beyond the reach of a majority of the citizens, said Khurram Raza, a resident of Islamabad. As a banker by profession, he said he came to his parent’s home in Johar Town Lahore every year to celebrate the Eid. “In past, we used to purchase two goats but, for the last three years, we could not afford two sacrificial animals,” he said.

A majority of buyers believe that the high prices of sacrificial animals will come down as the Eid approached nearer, adding that the sellers would like to sell all their animals before the occasion.

“Presently, the sellers are demanding high prices, especially of goats,” said Umar, a resident of Gulshan-e-Iqbal. Last year, he had bought a healthy goat for Rs 56,000 whereas the price of the same sort of goat had gone up to Rs 85,000 this year, he added.

People have also started contacting butchers in advance to slaughter animals in time on the Eid day but they are also claiming very high rates for slaughtering the animals.

On the Eid, butchers work in two to three-member teams, slaughtering about 20 to 25 goats. Hameed, a butcher said due to the inflation they have also increased their charges. Presently, a butcher is demanding Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,500 per goat, Rs 25,000 to Rs 45,000 for big animals.

Meanwhile, under the chairmanship of Commissioner Lahore Zaid bin Maqsood, a review meeting was held regarding arrangements in cattle markets established for Eidul Azha. He took a briefing from the DCs regarding the situation and arrangements in the markets.

Commissioner said that there should be a solid and dynamic system for redressal of any complaint on the arrangements in the markets. He said that a total of 8 markets are being established in Lahore, 6 in Nankana, 4 in Kasur and 11 in Sheikhupura.

In the briefing, it was informed that the traffic was flowing after the operation against the illegal cattle markets around the Shahpur Kanjran market. He directed that no animal must enter the city without spraying from the livestock campus at all entrances of the city.

Commissioner said to keep the parking organised in cattle markets and Lepark should ensure arrangements. All cattle markets should have medical campuses and livestock campuses with medicines and doctors and focus should be given on water supply in markets due to hot weather.

Commissioner said that cleanliness in markets is the responsibility of LWMC. Rain is predicted, the district administration should make full preparations for drainage from the markets and the city.

Commissioner said to make 100pc facilities available to traders and animals in markets as per government instructions. District administration, police and MCL must take joint action against illegal fences.

Commissioner Lahore further said that every complaint regarding cleaning and livestock markets on Eidul Azha should be monitored and remedied by the control centers.