Small step towards a hygienic Eid in Dhaka

Hammad Ali
Published : 25 Sept 2015, 01:19 AM
Updated : 25 Sept 2015, 01:19 AM

With Eid-ul-Azha upon us, the logistic concerns of transporting people to their home-villages had made way to the headaches of transporting cattle to the capital's Gorur Haats.

This year's Eid has been beset by the issue of high cow prices from the cost of feed and a measure of scarcity from the recent political ban on beef trade and consumption in states in India earlier this year.

This deterred shoppers unwilling to pay the higher prices this year. Hopefully, the cow traders were able to go home with some profit from the last minute stragglers.

Unlike the past, a new change will hopefully come to improve the Festival of Sacrifice for urban-dwellers of Dhaka.

We do not need to look far back into the past to imagine the blood-filled streets on the mornings of Eid-ul-Azha.

Pools of blood washed away into the gutters, entrails and fat gathered and dumped into any nearby manholes, and a stench that stuck to the streets for several days.

For an entire morning, the streets become host to organic waste and smells which do nothing for the conditions of hygiene in a city and its streets that were obviously never designed to be used for sacrificial ceremonies.

After all, even the ancient Romans saved their annual sacrifices just for the steps of the Pantheon.

So what is new on Eid day for Dhaka in 2015?

This year, the government and Dhaka City Corporation have designated 493 spots throughout the city for animal slaughtering. We have all been requested to use those nearest to our homes for the sacrifice.

This should really help to improve the basic hygienic conditions of our city in the aftermath of Eid, and help keep our streets clean and clear for movement during the holidays.

Proactively, City Corporation councillors ran an awareness campaign of these spots in the days leading up to Eid. Most usefully, local mosques were instructed to inform Muslims during Friday congregations.

What are the specifics of the PSA?

  • That there are designated spots being made available specifically for sacrifice
  • That the blood of the sacrifice must be drained properly into a hole dug in the ground and covered back up again
  • Entrails and excreta must not be thrown into drains, manholes, or street gutters, and be disposed of in bins standard for disposal by the City Waste Disposal Department
  • That any remaining blood on the streets must be washed away with bleaching agents and antiseptic

When asked why this policy was being enacted this year, Captain Saha, the chief waste management officer at the City Waste Management Department of DNCC, said that there are environmental concerns and hygiene issues caused by poor disposal of waste from animals slaughtered in neighbourhoods, and often right outside homes.

This made efficient cleaning and waste disposal a big issue for City Corporation. With that in mind, the Prime Minister's Office issued the directive last year to ensure containment of areas affected by animal slaughter and ensure cleanup within 30 hours after Eid morning, and so the initiative was finally taken up.

When asked if this was mandatory for the year, Captain Saha said, "If people are slaughtering animals in their own premises and cleaning up in compliance with standards, we of course cannot stop them from doing so. However, no one will be allowed to just slaughter animals in the streets or other public areas."

Hopefully over the next few years the process will be more streamlined and strictly enforced.

"This being the first time, we will of course run into some unforeseen issues. One cannot really plan for all possible contingencies, nor can we postpone action until every possible issue has been prepared for. Hopefully the process will improve with the years, until we are able to set up efficient slaughterhouses."

"Citizens intending to use these spots can just bring their animals there on the morning of Eid, there is no need for any advance notice", he added.

"We have made arrangements for Imams to be present in the spots, but people will have to bring along their own butchers since this would be too overwhelming for us to manage with any degree of effectiveness."

All this is well and good, and the case for doing something being better than doing nothing is a cynical but necessary outlook. In which case, it is best to wait and see how effective the implementation is. It seems surprising that a first step towards maintaining urban hygiene and limiting the potential spread of diseases from organic waste has only been taken up this year of all years.

However, it seems that enough information about these spots and the policy to not slaughter animals in one's own area was not communicated widely enough, with many people not having a clear idea about the matter. The relevant authorities could engage in greater publicity, and clarify whether using these spots is mandatory or not. It is incumbent on the citizens too to take the necessary steps towards ensuring a better city and neighbourhoods.

Let's hope this year we can all have a pleasant and responsible celebration. Eid Mubarak to all our readers!

Notes from after Eid

Observation of certain areas, discussions with citizens, and news reports seem to say that very few people used these spots this year. In several localities, people performed their slaughters right in the streets, so clean-up is going to be a challenge. We hope next year this policy is enforced more rigidly.

Designated slaughter areas for Dhaka North City Corporation and Dhaka South City Corporation.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher