LAHORE: As Eid-ul-Azha is just a few days ahead, the sale and purchase of sacrificial animals is gaining momentum in the provincial capital though the prices of sacrificial animals have reached beyond the purchasing limits of the general public.
A visit to different cattle markets established around the city showed that so far majority of citizens visiting cattle markets are returning empty handed owing to the avarice of the animal sellers. It was seen that majority of sellers of sacrificial animals are demanding very high rates as there is no price regulatory mechanism introduced by the city government.
On an average over 400,000 sacrificial animals are slaughtered in the city on every Eid-ul-Azha and out of the total number of sacrificial animals around 250,000 are small animals ie goats and sheep while the rest of them are big animals, like cows, calves, camels, etc, said an official of the City government.
Survey of different sale points revealed that the price of a normal size goat ranges from Rs25,000 to Rs45,000, a lamb/sheep from Rs20,000 to Rs35,000 and a cow/calf from Rs45,000 to Rs90,000 in most of the city markets.
However, the sellers of sacrificial animals said that main reason behind high prices of animals this year is increased transportation cost as well as increase in prices of animal fodder.
Khurram Wattoo, a calf seller from Layyah, said that rise in transportation charges, cost of animal breeding and bribe collected by the police and officials of various departments led to the increase in the animal prices. He alleged that police had charged him Rs100 to Rs300 per animal in the name of Eidi at every picket on his way from Layyah to Lahore.
Mian Farrukh, a seller from Burewala said the price of green fodder has gone up by 50 percent in comparison with the previous year while fare of a truck from Burewala to Lahore also increased by 100 percent.
“I can’t sell my animals on loss,” he said, adding he was thinking of going back home as customers’ response was not very good at the moment. The most affected of the high prices of sacrificial animals are the salaried and low income groups of the society and probably majority of them would not be able to perform this religious ritual due to high prices of the sacrificial animals.
Majority of the customers visiting animal sale point at Kahna said the government should be controlling the prices but it has left the general public at the mercy of the sellers who are demanding very high prices of normal animals.
Javed Iqbal, a resident of Samanabad, said that prices of animals have increased but the income was the same. He said white-collar citizens are facing the real dilemma as they wanted to buy the animal to fulfill their religious obligation but could not afford it.
However, most of the citizens believed that high prices of sacrificial animals may come down in coming days because the sellers will not want to take back their animals. “Presently, the sellers are demanding high prices, especially of goats,” said Omar Kashmiri, a resident of Faisal Town.
He said last year the situation was same and he bought two goats on Chand Raat at low rates. Majority of citizens have demanded the government to enforce a price mechanism so that they can purchase sacrificial animals on reasonable rates.
On the other hand, the City government had notified fixed sale and purchase points for sacrificial animals in all the nine towns of the provincial capital but one can witness sale of sacrificial animals inside the city as well as on the roads.
These points are Bakkar Mandi, Shahpur Kanjran in Allama Iqbal Town, Bismillah Housing Society, GT Road in Wagah Town, LDA Avenue 1, Raiwind Road in Nishter Town, Banker Society near Kamahan Interchange in Gulberg Town and Bilal Town near Saggian Bridge in Data Town and Ravi Town.
The City government also enforced SOPs for the sale and purchase of sacrificial animals according to which the sale points should have secured entry and exit points, ramps for loading/unloading of animals, drinking water for visitors/animals, fodder places for small/large animals along with fodder cutter, animal sheds and seating place for visitors, masjid, public toilets, veterinary and human dispensary, complaint office/site office, canteen/restaurant, parking place, boundary wall/barbed fencing, animal washing area, directional boards, weighting bridge (scale), information centre, generators, CCTV cameras, public address system, electronic display system/market information desk, security guards, name of focal person/incharge of Mandi, contact number of focal person, decoration and beautification, lighting arrangements and installation of ATMs. Ironically most of these SOPs are not followed or observed at majority of the sale points.
Following the event, citizens have also started booking butchers who are also demanding very high rates. Citizens said butchers are demanding Rs5,000 to Rs8,500 per goat and Rs15,000 to Rs25,000 per cow while Rs35,000 to Rs50,000 for a camel.
Many people have also started using social media for sale and purchase of sacrificial animals while many big grocery stores and meat selling companies have also introduced Eid packages in which they are offering different deals to attract customers.