Srinagar, Oct 9: The Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution department has failed to issue a rate list of mutton since 2004, causing confusion on the rates among consumers and sellers.
On Monday the butchers observed a strike against what they termed as highhandedness of market checking squads on the eve of Eid.
The CAPD had issued the rate list in 2004, asking the mutton retailers to sell it at Rs 125 per kilogram. But the butchers are not ready to accept the rates today. Consumers pay Rs 160-180 per kilogram, and government seems to be tacitly allowing the sale at these prizes fixed by the meat sellers.
The butchers say they approached the government many a time to issue a revised rate list. "We have been asking the government to issue a fresh rate list so that there won t be any confusion on the rates," said Khazir Muhammad Ragoo, the president of All Kashmir Butchers Association.
"The confusion," Ragoo said, "forces the Association to occasionally go on a strike, which causes problems to consumers."
Many butchers who spoke to Greater Kashmir maintained that they cant sell the mutton at Rs 125, given the increase in transport and other charges since 2004.
Ghulam Muhammad, a butcher in Srinagars busy Koker Bazar said, "The government should take the butchers into confidence and issue a new rate list that will be acceptable to consumers, butchers and the government itself."
Sources in the CAPD said the government, without issuing formal orders, asked the butchers to sell meat at Rs 150 per kilogram, but the butchers turned down the request. And since 2004 the government has been conveying the rates to the meat wholesalers verbally.
"Government should take us into confidence before issuing any rate list. When government fixed rates in 2004, we were not taken into confidence and were forced to file a writ petition in court," said Ragoo.
The Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Mehboob Iqbal told Greater Kashmir that the confusion would soon end. "We have asked the Sheep Husbandry department to send us an analytical report on the mutton rates in different states in India," Iqbal said. "We hope that the new rate list will be ready by the end of this month."
In Srinagar, more than 5000 sheep are slaughtered every day. This excludes the festivals and other occasions like marriages when the demand soars.
The sheep are transported to the valley from different Indian states like Jaipur, Delhi and Amritsar. The daily trade of mutton the valley amounts to over Rs 1 crore.