Hyderabad: Stating that markets like Hyderabad’s Chidiya Bazaar indulge in a lot of illegal trade of animals and do not seem to follow any food safety guidelines, five organisations for animal protection have written to Dr Harsh Vardhan, minister of health and family welfare, urging him to take immediate action on all these markets. They said that this is necessary to prevent the emergence of novel diseases and the spread of the Corona virus.

As stated in various reports, the outbreak of COVID-19 is said to have emerged from a meat and wildlife market in Wuhan, China. The five organisations – People for Animals (PFA), Humane Society International/India (HSI/India), Mercy for Animals India Foundation (MFA), Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) and Ahimsa Trust – asked the health minister to regulate the sale of animals and birds and close unlicensed pet shops and meat markets which don’t follow the FSSAI guidelines.

“Increase in industrial slaughter and factory farming of animals, unchecked trade of wildlife and crowding of various species of animals in close confinements has been an invitation to deadly epidemics. The connection is unmistakable. Let’s learn from our mistakes. We are hopeful that the Ministry of Health undertakes the suggested measures to rectify this crisis and safeguard the country’s health,” said Gauri Maulekhi, trustee, People for Animals.

In the letter, the five organisations referred to a survey conducted by Nepal called “Food-borne bacterial pathogens in marketed raw meat of Dharan, eastern Nepal”. According to the survey, “raw meat in less developed countries is easily contaminated from external sources during the handling and processing of the meat with knives, hands, and other tools.”

The organisations named many meat markets in India such as Sonepur Mela near Patna, Crawford Market in Mumbai, Chidiya Bazaar in Hyderabad, Russell Market in Bangalore as hotspots for human interactions with live animals and meat which can lead to infections. “The science is clear. Unless we act now and end intensive confinement in animal rearing and trade, shut down live animal/meat markets, such disastrous pandemics will continue to be commonplace,” the letter stated.

Aiswarya Sriram

Aiswarya Sriram is a budding multimedia journalist and is currently working for NewsMeter as a "Factcheck Freelancer". A graduate from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) Bangalore, Aiswarya has earlier worked with The Logical Indian and has interned with Republic TV. Aiswarya, a Tamilian who was born and brought up in Mumbai, loves to do rural reporting. She has visited Byadgi Taluk of Karnataka, to write about the issues faced by chilli factory workers there, earlier in 2019. A craft enthusiast, Aiswarya also does quilling, painting and glass work. On her off-days, she loves to read crime-thrillers and watch anime. She primarily reports on civic issues, GHMC, human-interesting features, and fact-checking video stories.

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