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Big business gains from UP’s slaughterhouse crackdown

The crackdown has therefore skewed the market in favour of big companies, which have thus far been engaged in export of buffalo meat.

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UP slaughterhouse crackdown

Kanpur/Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh): Mohammad Shafiq took solace from the large grain container placed in a corner of the room. “This will last six to nine months. At least we won’t starve now,” he said.The 52-year-old, who lives with his family in a small hutment in a graveyard in Kanpur’s Idgah Colony, used to procure meat from the nearby government slaughterhouse and sell it by the roadside.

The 52-year-old, who lives with his family in a small hutment in a graveyard in Kanpur’s Idgah Colony, used to procure meat from the nearby government slaughterhouse and sell it by the roadside.In March 2017, the newly-elected Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh (UP) ordered action against slaughterhouses and meat-sellers operating without valid licences and violating environmental and health rules.

In March 2017, the newly-elected Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh (UP) ordered action against slaughterhouses and meat-sellers operating without valid licences and violating environmental and health rules.Across the state, numerous shops and slaughterhouses, including government-run abattoirs, were sealed, leading to

Across the state, numerous shops and slaughterhouses, including government-run abattoirs, were sealed, leading to severe shortage of meat and affecting the livelihoods of thousands like Shafiq who made a living by using common government abattoirs for a small fee. Essentially, failure of municipal administrations to upgrade these facilities had destroyed the vast unorganized meat industry, and hundreds of thousands of ancillary jobs.

For a while, Shafiq went back to his ancestral village with his wife and kids. There, he worked as a farm-hand even though his left hand does not function properly. “It was wheat harvesting season. I had never done that work before but with my kids’ support, I managed somehow and got 500kg grain in return,” he told IndiaSpend on a muggy June evening.

Now back in Kanpur, Shafiq hawks churan (tangy powder), tamarind and jamun around town. “Earlier my elder son used to do this work, but he suffers from night blindness. I thought I can put in more hours than him. He has now taken to buying and selling scrap. I make Rs 200-250 a day while he manages between Rs 75-125,” Shafiq said.

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Mohammad Shafiq sells churan (tangy powder) in Kanpur, central Uttar Pradesh. Till three months ago, he used to sell meat that he bought from a government abattoir in Kanpur and earned a profit of Rs 500 every day within three hours. With the closure of the slaughter house, Shafiq now hawks his wares till evening and makes Rs 200-250.

From meat-selling, Shafiq used to earn Rs 400-500 within three hours. “The meat, fresh from the slaughterhouse, would sell quickly. We don’t have refrigeration, so I would only buy as much as I could sell easily. Any leftovers, the family would use,” he said.

‘Illegal’ slaughterhouses: Past governments ignored issue

The Prevention and Control of Pollution (Uniform Consent Procedure) Rules of 1999 list slaughterhouses under the ‘red’ heavily-polluting category with potential to adversely impact public health.

In UP, as in the rest of the country, a range of agencies regulate slaughterhouses. Foremost among these is the state-level pollution regulator, the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), which gives permission (“no-objection certificate”) for setting up a slaughterhouse after getting a go-ahead from the top district administrator, the District Magistrate (DM). The DM conducts a site inspection to assess compliance with various parameters, including law and order, before granting permission. Once a slaughterhouse is set up, the UPPCB monitors its functioning to ensure pollution control measures are in place.

If the facility is for export, approval is also required from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). Slaughterhouses must also follow thePrevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001, as well as obtain a license from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to ensure all animal-derived food is healthy.

Many slaughterhouses have been accused of violating norms, and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) is hearing a string of petitions seeking their upgradation or closure. In May 2015, hearing one such petition, the NGT ordered all slaughterhouses running without requisite permits in UP to be shut.

When the new BJP government assumed office in UP in March this year, it began to take action on the NGT order.

Both private and government-run slaughterhouses were shut, having failed to upgrade despite the 2015 NGT order, a previous Supreme Court order and reminders by the UPPCB.

In this partial list of 129 industrial units failing to install anti-pollution devices in 2015, 44 were slaughterhouses, 39 of which were run by municipal bodies and nagar panchayats while another was run by the Lucknow Cantonment Board. All four of capital city Lucknow’s slaughterhouses were found not to have proper treatment facilities.

According to the Uttar Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act, 1959, the construction and maintenance of public markets and slaughterhouses is an obligatory duty of the local corporation. The Allahabad High Court upheld this in an ongoing case regarding operation of slaughterhouses.

An amount of Rs 12.5 crore was sanctioned on January 3, 2017, for the modernisation of the slaughterhouse at Lucknow’s Moti Jheel, but the project got stuck when the model code of conduct for assembly elections came into force the very next day.

A similar situation prevails in other cities and towns except Agra, where the municipal corporation runs a modern abattoir.

“The responsibility of previous governments is greater than the current government. They failed to modernise the slaughterhouses for a very long time preparing the ground for the present crisis,” said Irfan Ahmad, the vice-president of the Jamiat-ul-Quresh, an organisation of slaughterhouse owners and meat and beef suppliers in Kanpur.

A comparison of the earnings and expenditures of the Lucknow and Agra municipal corporations shows how the state capital lost precious revenue by failing to modernise its slaughterhouse.

The Agra Municipal Corporation earned Rs 4.26 crore in 2014-15 from leasing out its modern slaughterhouse to a private contractor. The contractor uses the facility for export purposes and also allows individual butchers to use it for a fee of Rs 385 per buffalo. The Lucknow Municipal Corporation, in contrast, was able to charge  Rs 10 as fee for slaughtering of goat/sheep and Rs 25 for buffalo, making Rs 25.33 lakh in all. Spending Rs 44.87 lakh on staff salaries, it reported a loss of over Rs 19 lakh.

Graph1-desktop

Source: Budget documents of Lucknow and Agra municipal corporations

Lucknow: Lucknow Nagar Nigam Budget 2016-17 , Lucknow Nagar Nigam Budget 2015-16

Agra: Nagar Nigam Agra Budget 2016-17Nagar Nigam Agra Budget 2015-16

A crackdown with wide reverberations

UP, India’s top meat producer in 2012-13, has felt the reverberations far and wide.

Of the 77 APEDA-approved slaughterhouses in India, 44 are in UP. In addition to these, municipal corporations and nagar panchayats (city councils) run numerous abattoirs to meet the domestic meat requirement.

UP has a famous, long-standing non-vegetarian culinary tradition, and as per the 2011-12 consumer expenditure survey of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), an average UP household  reported consuming 0.17 kg of buffalo meat every month, as against the all-India average of 0.10 kg.

Some 30.6% of UP households reported they consumed non-vegetarian food, while 7.95% households reported they consumed beef or buffalo meat. The all-India average was 4.5%.

Beef And Buffalo Meat Consumption
Quantity (Per 30 days) Incidence (Per 1,000 households)
Uttar Pradesh 0.17 kg 7.95
All India 0.1 kg 4.5

Source: Household Consumption of Various Goods and Services in India 2011-12 NSS) 68th Round

While India registered a 3.33% decline in livestock population during 2007-12, UP saw a 14% growth, indicating the economy’s dependence on livestock and allied businesses, IndiaSpend reported on March 29, 2017.

Source: Animal Husbandry Department, Uttar Pradesh

NOTE: *Including meat processing plants

Livelihoods lost

Kanpur’s Bakar Mandi slaughterhouse, from where Shafiq used to buy meat, was one of many government facilities which had not been modernised despite repeated reminders from the UPPCB.

Butchers would pay a small fee (Rs 25 for buffalo, Rs 10 for goat) to use the facility at night and the meat would be put on sale around the city by early morning.

“I support modernisation, but the government should have made an alternative arrangement before closing it down. A gradual phase-out would have helped everyone,” Shafiq said.

Danish Qureshi, 25, of Rampur town was similarly rendered jobless. He now drives a rented e-rickshaw for hire, although he considers meat-selling his family business. “My father had a licence issued by the Municipal Corporation 45 years back. I used to get it renewed every year,” he said, “Why didn’t anybody tell us we were doing business illegally?”

His bigger complaint is that the government is not helping butchers secure bank loans to upgrade their shops, a prerequisite to get FSSAI licenses. “Most of us have little by way of savings,” he said, adding, “Those with money have renovated their shops, but they form just one per cent of the butcher community in Rampur.”

Farmers, associated trades take a hit

At the Sunday cattle market in Tirwa village, about 15 km from Kannauj city in central UP, very few transactions were taking place as farmers were not getting the price they were quoting.

This was largely due to enforcement of the NGT order. The more recent central government ban on sale of cattle for slaughter in cattle markets–currently on hold following a Supreme Court order–is yet to be implemented on the ground.

“Last year it was notebandi, and this year it is meat bandi that has reduced demand,” said Arjun Singh, a farmer from Achanakapur village. He was seeking Rs 50,000 for a young female buffalo, but was getting offers of Rs 32,000.

Since the slaughterhouse crackdown, farmers are unable to fetch good prices even for milch cattle because buyers are worried they will be unable to resell.

“What if a buffalo is unable to breed? No other farmer would touch it. Should we keep spending on its fodder or sell it to a slaughterhouse? Why can’t the government understand this simple logic?” asked a farmer at a cattle market in Chaubepur village near Kanpur.

Brajal Kumar Dwivedi, a young farmer from Jaisinghpura village, wanted to sell a mother-calf buffalo pair for Rs 90,000. He was getting offers of up to Rs 70,000. “I bought it last year for Rs 80,000 from Sakipur mandi, had it fed and impregnated, and am still unable to get the price I paid,” he said. Engaged to be married, Dwivedi needed money for his wedding but said he would wait a few weeks for prices to stabilise, and would sell milk to the local dairy until then.

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Brajal Kumar Dwivedi of Jaisinghpura village in Kannauj district of central Uttar Pradesh wanted to sell a mother-calf buffalo pair for Rs 90,000, but he did not get offers beyond Rs 70,000. He bought the buffalo last year for Rs 80,000, fed it, had it impregnated but cannot get the right price, as demand falls. Engaged to be married, Dwivedi hoped to raise money for his wedding. He has now decided to wait for a few weeks, hoping that prices stabilise.

Jaddunath Singh of Kithwa village was not so lucky–he had to sell a buffalo at a Rs 11,000 loss because he needed money for the treatment of his hospitalised father-in-law.

Those providing ancillary services are also affected. Rajendra Singh, who lets out vehicles to transport animals, was staring at another dull day. “Most farmers are taking their animals back on the vehicles they came on. Only a buyer would hire a vehicle here, but not many deals have come through. This has been the case for the last three months,” he said.

The Pechbagh hide market in Kanpur, the largest in India for buffalo skin, has also seen trade decline over the last couple of years–particularly since the 2015 mob lynching of a Muslim man, Mohammad Akhlaq, and his son, who were suspected of stealing and slaughtering a stolen cow calf, in Dadri in eastern UP.

“Fear of cow vigilantes who beat up transporters even if they are transporting only buffalo skins has scared away suppliers,” said Akhtar Hussein Akhtar, a godown owner at Pechbagh and an office-bearer of the local Hide Merchants’ Association.

Akhtar explained that large, mechanised slaughterhouses sell hides directly to big tanneries, and only those engaged in skinning dead animals sell to merchants in Pechbagh. “[Earlier] most of the supply came from government abattoirs while weekly supply from villages filled the gap.

Now whatever raw material we are getting is from villages and that too of animals who die of natural causes, not slaughtered ones,” he said, adding that supply has gone down from 10,000 hides per month to 500. “We have also reduced our employee strength from eight workers to just one now,” he said.

According to the Hide Merchants’ Association, around 40,000 people are directly engaged in this trade. Membership of the association has reduced by half in the last few years as many have turned their godowns into garment shops.

Big businesses benefit

According to the All India Meat and Livestock Exporters’ Association, UP’s meat industry employs nearly 2.5 million people. But there’s a stark difference between the formal market consisting mostly of wealthy exporters and the informal community of butchers, meat suppliers and those trading in animal byproducts. While the former own mechanised, well-equipped slaughterhouses that usually have the requisite permits, the informal market is dependent on government-run abattoirs, most of which have now been shut down for failing to comply with rules.

The crackdown has therefore skewed the market in favor of big companies, which have thus far been engaged in export of buffalo meat. “Big companies are making tidy profits as the cattle market has tanked due to no demand from butchers. On the other hand, shortage of meat in the market has caused its price to increase. So, the companies can buy animals at a low price and sell meat at a premium,” Dharmendra Malik, general secretary of the UP branch of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), told IndiaSpend.

To combat the meat shortage, the Kanpur DM arranged a meeting of meat-sellers and private companies operating from Unnao, a leather and chemicals hub 15 km from Kanpur. “We are granting no-objection certificates  for meat shops to operate on the condition that they source meat from these companies,” Dr A.K. Singh, the veterinary officer at Kanpur Municipal Corporation.

Similar arrangements have been made in other cities, including Bareilly, Moradabad, Aligarh and Muzaffarnagar. The price of buffalo meat has gone up from Rs 150 per kg before the clampdown to Rs 200 now.

Businesses are happy to tap the market not open to them earlier. “People are not very keen on the frozen meat we supply as they are used to getting raw and fresh meat from the city abattoirs. But that option is not available now. We are currently supplying 3-4 tonnes of buffalo meat per day to Kanpur and hope to scale it up to 30-35 tonnes,” Abhishek Arora, owner of AOV Exports Limited.

Butchers, however, are unhappy at being compelled to buy from large companies. “Around a fourth of our earnings come from selling of waste material from slaughter. Entering into an agreement with the company means to let go of this profit. We would rather close down than hand over our business to the companies,” said Shahabuddin Qureshi, the general secretary of Qureshi Foundation, an association of butchers and meat-sellers in Lucknow.

A way forward?

Many said an ideal solution would be to set up an alternative slaughtering site away from habitation until the government abattoirs are modernised. “When an animal is slaughtered, around 20 people get work. There are the meat sellers, those who trade in animal skin, those selling bones and hooves, and then there are people who process the fat for sale to soap factories,” said Ahmad of Jamiat-ul-Quresh. “Now the meat sellers with licenced shops are the only ones able to do some business. All others have been rendered jobless.”

Meanwhile, illegal slaughter continues in Lucknow, clandestinely and at a smaller scale. “The animal waste which was earlier generated at one place and picked up by the municipal corporation, is now polluting densely populated areas without any proper disposal,” Qureshi asked. “What purpose has been solved with the closure of the government-run abattoirs?”

As workers struggle to reorganise their lives after the mass closure of slaughterhouses, the failure of past and present governments to organise a trade that employed hundreds of thousands is largely overlooked.

“The clampdown was much needed in view of the health and environment concerns associated with ill-equipped slaughterhouses,” said Kamna Pandey, former member of the Animal Welfare Board of India, based in Lucknow, “In fact, I don’t agree with the argument that the action needed to be in phases. But the government should have also been proactive in constructing modern slaughterhouses to avoid public loss.”

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Manu Moudgil is a freelance consultant with India Water Portal. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. Feedback at [email protected])

Analysis

Yeddy does ‘Atal’, deals blow to BJP’s south strategy

With Karnataka gone now, Yeddyurappa made an emotional last bid to win people’s heart ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

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BS Yeddyurappa

New Delhi, May 19 : The BJP’s efforts to expand in southern states suffered a blow on Saturday with its two-day old government collapsing as Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa resigned before a trust vote in an assembly where no party has majority.

The party now hopes that the move, akin to what then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did in 1996 after failing to garner enough support for his 13-day old government, will help it gain sympathy in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Despite knowing the fact that it was short of the required numbers, the BJP leadership went ahead to stake claim and took risk of allowing Yeddyurappa to take oath as Chief Minister.

This is what Vajpayee — the first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Minister — did almost 22 years ago.

The BJP, which considers Karnataka as its gateway to south, tried its best to win the trust vote after forming the government on Thursday but failed to sustain it.

Despite this, BJP leaders are hopeful Yeddyurappa’s emotional speech in the Assembly before resigning and clearing his vision for the cause of farmers and downtrodden, will help the party in 2019 elections.

“Yeddyurappa did the same way Atal Bihari Vajpayee made his speech in the Lok Sabha in 1996 before resigning as the Prime Minister,” a senior BJP functionary told IANS, recalling how the BJP-led NDA returned with a thumping majority in the elections that followed.

“The BJP surged all over the country and formed governments (in many states) with coalition as well as of its own in 2014. We are hopeful of emerging in south too through Yeddyurappa,” he said.

With the possibility of relatively fewer seats in the Hindi belt states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and other north Indian states during the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, BJP President Amit Shah has been working on a strategy to compensate a bit from the probable loss of seats in southern part of the country.

But after Yeddyurappa’s resignation, Shah’s startegy has suffered a jolt as it provided an opportunity to the opposition camp to remain united.

The Assembly poll results clearly indicate that if the Congress and JD-S join hands in 2019, it will be a tough task for the BJP.

In 2014, the BJP had won 17 out of total 28 Lok Sabha seats of Karnataka. Out of total 129 seats of southeren states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerela, the BJP could win only 21 in 2014.

With the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) quitting the NDA, the BJP has already suffered a jolt in south as its position has weakened considerably in Andhra Pradesh where Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is campaigning against the Modi government for not meeting the demand of special status to the state.

To compensate TDP’s departure from the NDA, the BJP has been eying YSR Congress. But that looks like not an easy task as YSR Congress itself has been vehemently opposing the Modi government for not meeting the demand of special status.

In 2014, the BJP could won only two out of 25 seats in Lok Sabha in Andhra Pradesh.

In Tamil Nadu, the BJP is also facing the ire of the people as the Union government has failed yet to constitute a Cauvery Management Board.

With AIADMK in power and DMK as the main opposition, the BJP has very little space for its emergence in the state. In the 2016 state Assembly elections, the BJP even found it hard to identify candidates for the 234 constituencies in the Dravidian state.

The BJP is now trying to make inroads in Kerala but it will again not be an easy cup of tea for the party.

Although the BJP improved its vote share by around nine per cent in 2016 state Assembly elections, but it failed to stop Left Democratic Front from retaining power. In that year, the BJP opened an account in the state assembly — a first in the history of Kerala.

The BJP is hopeful of gaining ground in Telangana but faces a tough contest from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Congress. In 2014, it could win only one seat out of total 17 in the state.

Now, with the country all set to face general elections next year, the only state through which the BJP could have made inroads in south was Karnataka.

With Karnataka gone now, Yeddyurappa made an emotional last bid to win people’s heart ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

“I will travel across the state non stop. We have received tremendous love and support across the state. For 2019, I promise, we will win 28 out of all 28 Lok Sabha seats. I won’t relent. I will continue to fight till my last breath,” he said in the Assembly, before meeting Governor Vajubhai Vala to resign.

(Brajendra Nath Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

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Analysis

It’s about anything but Jinnah, says AMU community over controversy

Of the students and teachers unions raising questions on the impartiality of the local administration, Peerzada said the AMUSU and AMUTA were independent bodies and were “entitled to their views”.

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Jinnah row at AMU

There is consensus not only among the students, teachers and the administration of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) but also locals that, contrary to the perception created by media reports, the recent controversy and violence around the over the 143-year-old varsity has little to do with the portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. And there is more to it than what meets the eye.

One of the reasons behind this widespread scepticism is the fact that the man who stirred the controversy — BJP Lok Sabha MP from Aligarh Satish Gautam — had been a member of the AMU Court between 2014 and 2017. Why didn’t he raise the issue earlier, and how come his letter flagging the issue was leaked to the media even before it reached the Vice Chancellor office, ask those in the AMU community.

Of the “real purpose” behind the attack on the varsity by Hindutva activists, however, there are diverse views. While some insist on linking the entire episode with the ongoing Karnataka assembly elections, the others see it as a “diversionary tactic” by supporters of the BJP government at the Centre and state to hide its “failures”.

Still others feel that it had something to do with former Vice President Hamid Ansari’s visit to the university.

Those with an academic bent of mind portray the incident as an attack not just on AMU but on all institutions of higher learning in the country and their pluralist ethos. They point to a pattern in the attacks and urge one to look at “the larger picture”.

While the students have been openly questioning the local administration and the police’s impartiality, some of the teachers feel the university administration could have handled the portrait controversy “in a better way”.

The varsity administration, however, avers that it did everything “that needed to be done” on the first day itself and has been doing its best to “maintain peace on the campus so that that academics does not suffer and students’ future is not jeopardised in any way”.

The controversy started with a letter written by MP Gautam to the AMU Vice Chancellor on April 30 in which he questioned the presence of a portrait of Jinnah — Pakistan’s founder — in the AMU Students Union (AMUSU) office.

On May 2, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy is said to have tweeted: “Somebody needs to teach AMU a lesson. Who will do it?”, with a link to an article with the same heading.

On May 2, former Vice President M. Hamid Ansari was scheduled to visit the AMU at the invitation of the AMUSU that was to confer its lifetime membership — an honour also bestowed on Jinnah in 1938 and which explains the presence of his portrait there — on the former Vice President and a former Vice Chancellor of the university.

The next day, on May 3, Ansari was to deliver a lecture on pluralism in the Kennedy Hall at the varsity and in the evening attend a dinner hosted by the AMUSU. His schedule had been conveyed by the Aligarh administration in advance by Ansari’s office as per protocol.

Ansari reached the university on May 2 at the scheduled time, that is, 1 p.m., and was lodged at the AMU guest house which is near the Baab-e-Syed gate of the university.

A little later, a group of men, owing allegiance to the Hindu Yuva Vahini, an outfit founded and patronised by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, started creating a ruckus near the administrative block of the university by raising objectionable slogans. The AMU security confronted them and handed them over to the Civil Lines police.

As per the statement given by the AMU Proctor’s office to the police, the men returned barely half an hour later with more people — around 25-30 men, some of them wielding pistols, lathis and stones — and shouting expletives and objectionable slogans against the AMU, tried to barge into the university through Baab-e-Syed.

“First the persons handed over to the police were let off easily. Then the miscreants were allowed to come near Baab-e-Syed at a time when a former Vice President of India was in the university guest house which is less than 100 metres away from Baab-e-Syed. Then the students going to lodge the FIR against all this were brutally beaten up by the police and Rapid Action Force. How could there be so many lapses on the part of the administration within a few hours,” AMU Teachers’Association (AMUTA) President professor Hamid Ali asked while speaking to IANS.

Several students were badly injured in the police assault and had to be hospitalised.

Ansari cut short his two-day programme and returned to Delhi soon after the incident as the local administration expressed its inability to provide him security cover. Last year, there was an attempt to poison the drinking water tank of a madrasa in the town run by Ansari’s wife, Salma Ansari.

AMUSU Presdent Mashkoor Ahmed Usmani said that neither is the controversy about Jinnah’s portrait nor is the students’ protest.

“Jinnah’s djinn will disappear again after Karnataka elections. Our protest is not about him or his portrait because the portrait has been there long before us. We are protesting against the use of brutal force against the students who were moving peacefully. We are also demanding a judicial probe into the entire incident and quashing of FIR against the unknown students of AMU,” Usmani told IANS.

“But a section of the media is portraying our protest as if we are supporters of Jinnah. We are not. His portrait is there since 1938, along with many others who were conferred with the lifetime membership of the AMUSU,” he added.

The students are also nursing a resentment against the university administration which, they think, “failed to rise to the occasion”.

Nevertheless, Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor did visit on Tuesday the dharna site — where students were preparing for the final exams commencing from Saturday — to “express solidarity with the genuine demands of the students”.

“I share our students’ pain and have endorsed the demand for judicial inquiry and conveyed the sentiments of the AMU fraternity to all concerned,” Mansoor said in a statement on Tuesday.

University Public Relations Officer (PRO) Omar Peerzada said that the administration had no objection to the students’ protest as this was being done “in a peaceful, democratic way inside the campus”.

Of the students and teachers unions raising questions on the impartiality of the local administration, Peerzada said the AMUSU and AMUTA were independent bodies and were “entitled to their views”.

“On our part, we have very good relations with the local administration as well as the Union HRD Ministry and we have had their full support so far,” Peerzada told IANS.

Meanwhile, it is business as usual in the rest of the town even as armed police surrounds the campus of the historic and multi-faceted university that has a long list of distinguished alumni who have made their names in politics, armed forces, civil service, sciences and academia. Incidentally, the university was ranked No 1 in the country this year in official rankings.

By : Asim Khan

(Asim Khan can be contacted on [email protected])

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Analysis

Is your building earthquake safe? Probably not

Earthquake Resistant — Immediate Occupancy” in which the building may suffer some minor damage but there would not be any loss of life or property. “Rarely in the Indian real estate scenario buildings are designed to this category.

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Under construction buildings

Though earthquakes have wreaked havoc in many parts of the country, Indian real estate and infrastructure sector still has lots more to learn — and implement — to ensure the safety of life and property.

Although structural requirements and concerned technologies are incorporated in the building process, sector players say many modern technologies used worldwide are yet to be widely used in the country.

According to V.K. Gehlot, Director, National Centre for Seismology, “base isolation” and “dampers” are the major technologies to make buildings strong enough to resist seismic vibrations. But they are not widely used in India because of the cost involved and requirement of frequent maintenance.

Through base isolation, engineers decouple the building or the superstructure from its substructure which rests on ground, thus protecting the building during an earthquake.

Dampers on the other hand work as shock absorbers and minimise the magnitude of vibrations transmitted to the building from the ground.

The cost difference between a building with and without dampers is approximately Rs 350 per square feet, according to Major Sandeep Shah, Managing Director of Taylor Devices India.

The company is a manufacturer of earthquake-resistant equipment and he says “all developers” in the country are aware of the technology.

Shah said the company’s devices have been used in Terminal-2 of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai, lobby block building of Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, and New Udaan Bhavan at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi.

He pointed out that “at present none of the buyers are aware that by using dampers buildings can be protected and would remain habitable even after a major earthquake. That may be the reason why no one (buyer) is asking for such buildings.” But once they are made aware, Shah was sure they would want the technology in the building they are going to live in.

According to Aunirban Saha, Director (Marketing, Construction and Sustainability) of the Saha Groupe of Companies, “most of real estate projects are designed to the grade of ‘Earthquake Resistant — Collapse Prevention’ “. That means that in the event of a major earthquake, the building would not collapse and there won’t be any loss of life. However, the building itself would not be in a habitable condition and would need to be demolished and reconstructed, he explained.

The next higher standard is “Earthquake Resistant — Immediate Occupancy” in which the building may suffer some minor damage but there would not be any loss of life or property. “Rarely in the Indian real estate scenario buildings are designed to this category,” Saha added.

The highest category of structural safety is that of “Earthquake Resistant — Operational”. Under this, there would be no damage to the property or any injury caused to its occupants irrespective of the magnitude of the earthquake.

Saha said most developers go for the first category of “Collapse Prevention” as they find it more cost-effective. Most home buyers are not aware of earthquake-related safety grades, he added.

The higher structural grades, Saha said, made more sense in today’s market scenario for commercial real estate because such properties are preferred by big multinational companies.

According to Dikshu C. Kukreja, Principal Architect at C.P. Kukreja Associates, “all leading architects of India have the knowledge and skill about the technologies available to incorporate them in our designs and construction.”

Other than dampers, structural concepts such as bracing — where X-shaped braces strengthen the columns of the buildings — and couplers — where bars are joined together — help in absorbing movement during an earthquake.

Siesmologist Gehlot says that earthquake resistance should be enforced as a default, even for small structures. Today, when building a house, 95 per cent people do not bother about earthquakes. “Our usual way of construction is that we will give it to a mason and they will start constructing,” he adds.

All that needs to change, he emphasises.

By Rituraj Baruah

(Rituraj Baruah can be contacted at [email protected])

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