Multiple raids on piggery units by authorities under the RK Puram flyover in Secunderabad are shedding light on why the RK Puram lake may have recently frothed.
Enforcement teams raided five piggery units on Thursday and seized several pigs, that were lined up for slaughter.
It all began after a tip-off on Saturday, according to Dr Goverdhan Reddy, assistant director (North zone, Veterinary Section) of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC.)
"We got information on Saturday from the police department and my veterinary officer Srinivas Reddy conducted an inspection on Sunday, and saw a pig being openly slaughtered in a piggery unit, and prosecuted one Dharmendar," he told TNM.
"On Thursday, we inspected five piggery units. We found live animals in two of the units, and we have imposed a compounding fee of Rs 1,500 on the owners of each of the units," he added.
Goverdhen also said, "We have booked one chicken stall and fish stall also for not having a valid GHMC license. All these meat shops had been throwing their waste into the lake. The accused have been booked under sections 521, 486 and 596 of the GHMC Act."
Rotting meat equals frothing lake
The frothing at the RK Puram lake was first reported in June, as pre-monsoon showers swept the area.
Following this, officials from the Pollution Control Board (PCB) visited the lake and collected water samples.
Preliminary tests showed that the lake may have frothed, due to a mixture of sewage and alleged dumping of animal waste.
"Our preliminary analysis revealed that there is organic matter in the samples of the lake. We suspect that someone has been dumping pig waste in the water. There is also a cattle farm nearby, which may be dumping the organic matter," N Raveendher, a senior scientist from the PCB, had told TNM earlier.
Confirming the PCB's doubts, the Neredmet police arrested one person from an illegal piggery in the area on Saturday, which was involved in extracting oil from pig waste.
"Based on a tip-off from local residents, we raided the illegal outlets and found 1,000 litres of oil that was being extracted from pig fat. They were stored in five large drums. The accused ran a pork shop nearby," Neredmet inspector D Srinivasa Rao told TNM.
The police said that the accused had been illegally slaughtering pigs in the area, and collecting the fat that was excreted by the animal.
The fat would then be burned, and oil would be extracted. The police added that the accused dumped the remnant carcass after the process, at the RK Puram lake.
(The oil, stored in cans)
"According to his confession statement, he claimed that he was giving the oil for farmers, who used it for their crops. We have booked him under Section 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 272 (Food adulteration) and 273 (Sale of noxious food or drink) of the IPC," the police officer added.
However, when food safety officials visited the spot on Thursday, they said that they did not see any oil being extracted.
"Later on Saturday, we received information that oil was found and we called for a meeting with all the meat shop owners in the area. We warned them against resorting to slaughtering in unhygienic conditions and throwing animal waste in the lake. We have served a closure notice to one piggery unit, and one diary unit," Goverdhen said.
A local menace
According to locals, those indulging in breeding pigs, are migrants from Madhya Pradesh.
"They have been in the business for 18 years, and now the younger generation has taken over. They make money from every aspect of pork slaughter, from the fat to the bones. By the time they're done, only intestines and skin are left, which are dumped in the lake," alleges BT Srinivasan, General Secretary of the United Federation of Residents' Welfare Associations.
"Every morning, they start slaughtering pigs at around 5am or 6am, and the screams of the animals can be heard by everyone in the nearby slum. After killing the pig, they soak it in a drum filled with hot water, and then shave it. The water in the drum which is contaminated with blood, is also dumped into a nearby drain, and enters the lake," a local resident, who wished to be anonymous said.
Locals said that a stench fills the air, and the process also attracts a lot of mosquitoes.
Sources in the area also told TNM that those running the racket were local goons, and also wielded considerable political influence.
Even when locals had objected earlier, they say that the accused were saved from the local authorities, after they approached a TRS MLC with muscle power.
Locals also allege that the oil was in fact sold to fast food outlets and Chinese stalls across Hyderabad and Secunderabad, with some big restaurants being their main customers.
Even the law, where pork slaughter is concerned, is also tricky.
As far as mutton and beef are concerned, the GHMC has instructed outlets to use only stamped meat from notified slaughterhouses.
These slaughterhouses are a public–private partnership and the GHMC issues permission to private agencies to build and run them, in accordance with norms and rules, thereby ensuring healthier meat.
"As such, there is no licensed pork slaughterhouse in the limits of the GHMC. Only for mutton and beef, slaughterhouses are there and they are being regulated," says Goverdhen.
"However, we give licences to certain pork shops if they follow certain norms and rules. Units should have a 'pakka' house, a slab for slaughtering, tiled floors etc. We mention those norms in all our correspondences with the shops," he adds.