Jalandhar, August 22
“This is the worst time I have witnessed for cattle in the past 50 years. At least one head of (cattle) has been dying every day for the last one week,” said 66-year-old Hari Mitter.
Mitter, who disposes of dead animals for a living, has his hands full for the past fortnight. Lumpy skin disease has afflicted the livestock in the district so badly that there is no let-up to the requests he is getting to dipose of animal bodies.
Working primarily in the urban gaushalas of the city, he says while the rural areas saw a spate of deaths early on, presently the urban areas have been badly affected.
Flooded with requests
While the rural areas saw a spate of deaths in the beginning, urban areas are now badly affected. I am being paid Rs 500-600 for disposing of a single body… people from outside (the gaushalas) have also started approaching me to pick dead animals. —Hari Mitter, WHO disposes of dead animals
While he says he is being paid Rs 500 to 600 for picking up a single body — he has been baffled by the spate of cattle deaths. “Rab hi malik hai ji (only God can save us). There are so many deaths that people from outside (the gaushalas) have also started approaching me to pick dead animals,” Mitter says.
Mitter has been getting requests from Noorpur, Jamsher and other areas to pick up carcasses.
While 210 head of cattle have died in Jalandhar until Saturday, the disease has now begun severely impacting the city-based gaushalas. Collectively, over 20 animals have died in these gaushalas – many of which Mitter has been tasked to pick.
He says, “For the past one week, one or two head of cattle have been dying. On some days there are more. Today only I picked up two dead cows. We take them to Chaheru where there is a hadda rori (a place where animal bones and hides are kept). With the number of deaths increasing, some are also being dumped at the hadda rori in Noorpur. I have personally buried many animals at Chaheru in the past fortnight. We just pray that the nightmare gets over soon.”
Notably, Hari Mitter started the work of picking carcasses from cow sheds along with his five brothers many years ago. While all of them eventually left the work – Mitter has continued it for the past 50 years. He says some are treating this disease as an opportunity.
“I make do with Rs 500 to 600 per body. If someone makes a private request then at times we charge a bit more. However, some are earning Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 of a single body. I have picked up milch cattle and others also. I carry the bodies in my vehicle to Chaheru everyday – where we then dump it or bury it,” he says.