Slaughterhouse Diary III: Blossoms of Hope

Noor Hassan, a 55-year-old mango-grower from Dhanaura village in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh, saw his trees go barren because of effluents from a nearby abattoir. His annual income dwindled from a few lakhs of rupees to nothing. Today, with the closure of the slaughterhouse, he looks forward to revived fortunes.

 
It was almost a decade ago, in 2009, when we first saw this slaughterhouse coming up in our village. Behanji (Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati) was the chief minister then I remember, and many of us felt it would create jobs for the local youth and improve the roads linking our village to the highway. Our optimism was shortlived, for we soon realized the slaughterhouse had only brought misfortune. It was not just my mango orchard but all the farmland falling within a radius of 3 km of the slaughterhouse was affected. Grain crops, fruits and vegetables: all suffered in quality and yield. The following season, my trees stopped flowering and bearing fruit. We sought help and were told that the chimney of the ‘butcherkhana’ spewed toxic and chemical-laden fumes. This had a disastrous effect on the crops. We also ran from pillar to post, raising the alarm on this environmental disaster in our lives, but nobody cared. The owner of the slaughterhouse had deep pockets and high reach in the establishment. My income dried up. I left the orchard to the mercy of Allah and diverted my focus to our fields that were far away from the factory. I managed to keep the kitchen going at home. With a change of guard in 2012 (when Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Government came to power), we saw hope as the Yadav family had roots in farming. We went to Lucknow several times but all we got were false assurances. Apparently, an ex-minister and SP leader was a partner in the factory. The problems only grew from there, affecting not just the air but the groundwater as well. Our water pumps started pulling up dirty- foul-smelling water. It had become quite unbearable. In August 2014, we organised a huge panchayat in Dhanaura where hundreds of farmers gathered. Our protest continued for 95 days, and the authorities finally woke up and took note. The factory was sealed by the administration. It didn’t last. The owners of the slaughterhouse approached the High Court and the closure notice was stayed. I have three children and during this time, all were studying in Meerut. My children would often advise me to sell all the land we had and move out. But I am a firm believer in Allah, and decided to wait. A farmer will sell his land only when all options run out. The Yogi government was an answer to our prayers. In less than two months of his assuming power, district officials sealed this house of evil. The problems have not gone immediately, but did we didn’t expect them to. In time, the land would heal itself, I knew. Then, one day, for the first time in the last eight years, I saw blossoms on some of my mango trees. I cried. I am thankful to Allah and confident now that my good fortune will return.
 

More From the Slaughterhouse Diary

Part I: ‘Yogi govt butchered my job’

Part II: A School Reborn


  -With editorial assistance from Lokmarg]]>

Gujarat poll pointer? BJP sweeps UP local elections

BJP sweeps civic polls in Uttar Pradesh, Congress wiped out in Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi.

— Kanchan Gupta (@KanchanGupta) December 1, 2017 The BJP’s mayoral candidate in the crucial seat of Ayodhya — the hotbed of the BJP’s Hindutva brand of politics — has won.  Vote counting is also underway for the 5,434 Nagar Panchayat member seats and 5,261 corporator seats but in these independents have taken a major lead. Of the 5,434 Nagar Panchayat seats, independents have won 522 seats so far and the BJP is leading in 132 seats, the Samajwadi Party (SP) 69, BSP 53 and Congress 13. In the corporator polls, of the 5,261 seats where counting is underway, independents are leading in 212 seats, BJP (28), BSP (24) and SP (12). There are 79,113 candidates in the fray for the corporator seats. Counting is on at 334 places. The BJP candidate is leading in the mayoral seat of this city. Till the end of the 14th round of counting Asha Sharma of the BJP had polled 1,50,805 votes and stood first, while the BSP’s, Munni Chaudhary stood second by getting 62,938 votes. Dolly Sharma of the Congress got 61,554 votes and stood third. Rashi Garg of the Samajwadi Party stood 4th after receiving 23,220 votes. With a decisive lead over her Samajwadi Party (SP) rival, BJP’s Sanyukta Bhatia is set to be the first woman mayor of the state capital, as the vote count neared the end, officials said on Friday afternoon. Bhatia would be the first women to hold the mayor’s post in Lucknow in 100 years. The UP Municipal Act came into being in 1916. Bhatia is set to succeed Dinesh Sharma, who after two terms as the Lucknow Mayor was elevated as Deputy Chief Minister in March after the huge victory of the BJP in the state assembly elections. Lucknow voted on November 26 to elect its new mayor. In the vote count till 1 p.m., the BJP had got 99,243 votes while SP candidate Meera Vardhan had polled 60,740, Congress’s Prema Awasthi 27,231 and BSP’s Bulbul Godiyal 21,005 votes. The Congress’s bad run in the state continues and its candidates are faring poorly in most places. Even in party pocket borough Amethi, the party’s candidates are trailing way behind in the Nagar Panchayat chairman posts. The Mathura mayor’s seat has been won by the BJP’s Mukesh Arya Bandhu who defeated his nearest Congress rival Mohan Singh. The Ayodhya seat was won by the BJP’s Rishikesh Upadhyaya. In the counting so far, the BJP’s Sitaram Jaiswal was leading in the mayoral polls after the fifth round in Kanpur. In Firozabad, the BJP’s Nutan Rathore was cruising ahead to the finishing line with a 52,000-vote lead over her nearest BSP rival. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also made some forays with two seats in the municipal polls. It is also leading in a dozen other seats, party spokesman Vaibhav Maheshwari said. While the BSP has fared better than in the past, the Samajwadi Party (SP) despite the hype is faring very poorly in most places, including in its strongholds of Etah, Etawah, Mainpuri, Firozabad and Kannauj.

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