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In Kottayam, it's traders vs meat lovers over rising beef prices

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Beef, often a source of controversy, but many Malayalees’ delight, that transcends political and religious differences in Kerala, is now in the news again, after a district panchayat’s attempt to cap its price.

The Kottayam Panchayat wants the price of beef, savoured by many in the state, to be fixed at ₹320 per kg, but the meat industry is seeing red over the move.

The development, which is expected to bring considerable cheer, comes in the wake of the Manjoor gram panchayat fixing the price of beef at ₹340 per kg.

The district panchayat, taking a cue from the gram panchayat and amid several representations from the public to reduce the skyrocketing price of beef (which had reached close to ₹400), resolved to fix a common price for it in Kottayam.

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According to Kottayam Panchayat president Nirmala Jimmy, it has been communicated to all gram panchayats, local self-government institutions and municipalities to hold discussions on the issue and implement the pricing in areas under their jurisdiction.

Jimmy said that several months ago, a representation was made over the beef pricing by one George from Njeezhoor gram panchayat, who later passed away due to ill health.

But others took up the grievance raised by him.

Jimmy told the media that several fresh representations seeking fixation of beef price close to ₹300 were received. In some areas of the district, beef prices hover close to ₹400.

“The representations and queries we received indicated the public’s concern over the matter and, therefore, we discussed the issue and decided that ₹320 would be an appropriate price, so that meat merchants also do not suffer any loss,” Jimmy said.

She also said that one panchayat has already fixed the price and once a few others follow suit, others would have no option but to adopt the decision.

However, the move has not been welcomed by the Meat Industries Welfare Association, which views the price resolution as a threat to their business which is already facing several hurdles, such as alleged extortion by goons, transportation issues and availability of cattle at reasonable prices.

The association’s president Salim MA told PTI that if the state resolves the hurdles being faced by the members of the association, then the price of beef can be reduced by around ₹50 per kilo.

He further said that complaints before the Kottayam Panchayat pertained to fixing prices for all kinds of meat, mutton and poultry, and its resolution also speaks of having uniform rates for all three.

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However, only the price of beef has been fixed, which Salim claims is aimed at encouraging companies involved in selling frozen beef.

“Without fixing the rates of frozen beef, mutton or poultry, only the price of raw beef has been fixed, which the association views as a move to harass its members,” Salim said.

Salim added that the Kerala government and the Kerala High Court have already directed that the price of beef cannot be fixed. “It is not an essential commodity and therefore, the red meat’s price cannot be fixed,” he said.

The meat association has already moved the high court against Manjoor Gram Panchayat’s decision, and the court has sought the panchayat’s stand on the association’s plea.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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