Chitral is a major tourism spot with tourists from all over coming to visit. However, due to the stench emanating from the meat and poultry shops located in the main Chitral Bazaar, tourists are facing challenges. Medical experts have warned that there is also a risk of zoonotic diseases being spread due to the presence of these shops near food stalls.
People from all over the world come to Chitral to watch the Kalash festivals, Shandor Polo festival, Broghul Festival and Qaqlasht festival. However, the widespread presence of butchers and chicken shops in Chitral Bazar acts like a stain on the region’s beauty. Not only are passers-by and tourists bothered by the stench coming from these shops, but their proximity to food stalls is also a threat to human health.
Our team conducted a survey in this regard and talked to various people and experts to learn their opinion. Mostly passersby, tourists and shopkeepers said, “We cannot breathe because of the bad smell of these poultry shops.”
Serving and former District Health Officers of Chitral, Dr. Fayaz Rumi, Dr. Israrullah and Dr. Nisarullah also confirmed the dangers of diseases caused by the hens in the butcher shops. According to these medical experts, there are more than 370 diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa, known as zoonotic diseases.
They said that edible things that are eaten without boiling or cooking, such as fruits, salads, bakery items and sweets, which are found near poultry and meat shops can house zoonotic diseases.
Former president of the trade union of Chitral Shabbir Ahmed said that the then-deputy commissioner also had regular correspondence with him and believed that these shops should be moved out of the market. He further added that the vehicles in which the chickens are brought from the lower districts are often open-roofed and due to the wind, their feathers and smell disperse throughout the market.
Additionally, the waste from the chickens is also taken from Chitral to Peshawar and nearby areas in open-roofed vehicles, causing further nuisance for the public. The wastage is carried in an open-roofed van which smells so bad that one gets dizzy, and it becomes necessary to cover them with tarpaulin so that the smell and dirt do not spread out. He said that when he was the president of the trade union, vehicles carrying chickens and their waste were allowed in the market only after evening to protect the public from its stench and harmful effects.
Deputy Commissioner Chitral Anwar-ul-Haq is also willing to shift these shops out from the market on the strong demand of the public, but according to him, the cooperation of the shopkeepers is also necessary in this regard. He said that in this regard, their Livestock Department is also working regularly. “We also get complaints from the public again and again, so we try to transfer the poultry to a different market,” he said, adding, “Shopkeepers should cooperate with us in this regard and not put obstacles in our way.”
The other non-poultry shopkeepers around the poultry shops are also igreatly bothered by the smell, due to which they do not get frequent customers. A shopkeeper selling ice cream in Dinin Bazar said, “There are poultry and meat shops near me, from which feathers and waste enter my shop due to the wind and when customers eat ice cream, the smell emanating from these shops is extremely unpleasant and that is the reason why most of the customers do not come to eat ice cream in my shop.”
Shopkeepers and market goers of Chitral, as well as tourists, demand the district administration and government institutions to shift these shops from the middle of the market to a separate market so that no one is bothered by their smell. These poultry shops should also be located away from fruit, vegetable, bakery and sweet shops near to avoid the spread of zoonotic diseases by accidentally consuming an infected item.