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Aim of cattle trade ban is to protect animals, end smuggling: Government

LiveMint logoLiveMint 27-05-2017 Mayank Aggarwal

New Delhi: Under attack from all quarters for the new animal market rules that effectively ban cattle trade for slaughter in such markets, the union environment ministry on Saturday defended the move, stating that the prime focus of the rules is to protect animals and remove the scope cattle smuggling, which a major area of concern.

The ministry stressed that the rules are a result of two Supreme Court orders—2015 and 2016—wherein it had asked for rules for ensuring welfare of animals.

The ministry, however, in a bid to pacify those angry with the new rules, said it has received some representations against some sections of the new rules and they will be duly examined.

The controversy is the result of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules 2017, which were notified on Tuesday by the Harsh Vardhan-led ministry of environment, forest and climate change. Apart from having detailed provisions for protection and welfare of animals, the rules also ban trade of cattle for slaughter at animal markets.

While animal rights activists are happy, industry and some political leaders are not. Traders are of the view that this definition of animal markets makes it very difficult for them to procure animals.

The industry fears that it will lead to huge losses as most of the cattle trade for slaughter takes place through animal markets. The new rules will make it difficult for farmers to dispose their spent cattle as traders usually buy buffaloes from farmers in cattle markets and then transport them to slaughterhouses.

The Kerala government has already announced that it is contemplating legal action.

Probably to absolve them of such criticism, the ministry said the rules focus on protection and welfare of animals.

“Some representations have been received today regarding certain provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules 2017. The representations received will be duly examined in the ministry,” said an official statement.

The ministry claimed that the basic purpose of the rule is to ensure welfare of the animals in the cattle market and ensure adequate facilities for them. It also said that the prime focus of the regulation is to protect the animals from cruelty and not to regulate the existing trade in cattle for slaughterhouses.

“It is envisaged that welfare of cattle dealt in the market will be ensured and that only healthy animals are traded for agriculture purposes for the benefits of the farmers. The livestock markets are intended to become hubs for trade for animal for agriculture through this process and animal for slaughter will have to be bought from the farmers at the farms. The notified rules will remove the scope of illegal sale and smuggling of the cattle, which is a major concern. The specific provisions apply only to animals which are bought and sold in the notified livestock markets and animals that are seized as case properties. These rules do not cover other areas,” the statement added.

The ministry also highlighted that the rules were framed as a result of a Supreme Court order in July 2015 wherein it had directed for framing of guidelines to prevent animals from the being smuggled out of India for the Gadhimai festival held in Nepal, where large-scale animals sacrifices take place.

“The Supreme Court had constituted a committee under the chairmanship of DG, Sahastra Seema Bal (SSB) and some suggestions were made by them, including measures to curb trans-boundary smuggling of cattle. The Supreme Court also inter alia directed that rules with regard to livestock market and case property animals also be notified. On 12th July, 2016 the Supreme Court by the way of a final order directed this ministry to frame rules under Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 1960,” the ministry said.

The ministry also said the draft rules were prepared by the Animal Welfare Board of India, India’s nodal body for welfare of animals, after incorporating the suggestions made by the Supreme Court.

The environment ministry also stressed that the draft version of the rules was put in public domain in January 2017 for objections and suggestions and a total of 13 representations were received regarding them.

“They were duly examined and incorporated, wherever found suitable,” it added.

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