LAHORE - People have been opting for collective sacrifice (Ijtamai Qurbani) apparently due to inflating prices of animals over the last few years, a survey conducted by TheNation revealed on Tuesday.

Tending towards this trend, livestock traders have also been importing bigger animals like bulls, cows and camels in the city markets instead of goats or sheep. They are of the view that this change in tendency of buying bigger animals is due to nominal difference in the prices of goat/sheep and cow/bull with a visible difference of meat quantity.

In Lahore markets, the price of an average-weighted sheep/goat ranges from Rs30,000 to Rs60,000, while the price of cow/bull starts from Rs60,000 and can reach up to Rs0.2-0.3 million. Similarly, a couple of camel is priced at Rs2,60,000 to Rs 3,90,000 in the markets and other sale points.

However, expensive sacrificial animals, with an increase of about 100 per cent in their prices as compared to the previous year, are keeping buyers away from the sale points set up by CDGL with hardly couple of days left in the Eidul Azha. In fact, sky rocketing prices of sacrificial animals are compelling the citizens to opt for collective sacrifice, which is becoming popular in this financial constraint, commented a buyer Asghar Ali.

With Eid-ul-Azha approaching soon, numbers of sacrificial animals are swelling in the temporary cattle-markets of the city. Vendors say that the price hike is the result of the recent floods, rising inflation, increasing transportation charges and other associated expenses.

Justifying the high prices, the traders say the floods in different areas killed many animals this year; moreover a large number of animals are being smuggled to other countries. Increase in prices of animal feed and other products is another reason for the price hike, they add.

A majority of the people visiting these sale points are window shoppers, merely taking a chance to fulfill the religious obligation this year.

Another buyer, Saeed, has said that he used to sacrifice a goat or sheep every year but this time it is beyond his capacity due to the high rates, adding that a middle class citizen is unable to afford buying such high-priced animals.

A livestock trader, Ali Muhammad, said that an average weighted cow, which the vendors are selling for Rs60,000, cost the traders Rs45-55,000 including the feed, transportation, market entry fees and rent of market space.

Whereas a CDGL official has claimed that the purchase and sale of sacrificial animals is exempted from all the taxes and transportation, entry and sale fee so that a maximum number of animal traders could be attracted to these sale points.

On the other hand, a number of traders have complained that the contractors and CDGL officials have been charging them forcibly.

They have been also been warned by the officials to not roam around with their animals in the city and carry on sales outside the sale points approved by government. Stern action would be taken against such mobile vendors as the government has banned such activity and all the illegal sale points under Section 144, the CDGL official added.

But he admitted that despite such warnings, the animal traders are setting up their private sale points on various busy roads and in populated areas of the city hindering the flow of traffic and creating problems for town administrations and the masses. The waste of animals also results in blockage of sewerage system, he added.

However, it was noted that a good number of animal traders are bringing their animals to the approved sale points (but not as much as previous years perhaps due to floods), particularly after announcement of tax-free entry of animals. But serious buyers seem reluctant to visit these distant sale points.

As for the prices of the animals, the traders have been seen demanding prices much higher as compared to the previous year. An average lightweight sheep or goat is available at Rs30,000 to Rs 45,000 which last year were available at Rs20,000 to Rs30,000. Prices for heavyweights are in the bracket of Rs50,000 to Rs2,00,000. Rates for bulls and cows are starting from Rs60,000 and reach up to Rs7,00,000 depending upon the health, weight and breed.