State mulls Tamil Nadu-type ordinance for Kambala

State mulls Tamil Nadu-type ordinance for Kambala
The Karnataka government has begun exploring the possibility of promulgating an ordinance to allow Kambala, the traditional annual buffalo race held in the coastal districts. Kambala, in which the man and buffalo race together in slush, is not permitted to be held due to the interim stay by the Karnataka High Court. The Animal Welfare Board of India had moved the court seeking a ban.

Last year, the government got an interim stay against the court order and allowed Kambala with prior conditions. One condition was that animals should not be tortured, and the race should be held under the supervision of officials. The districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Kasargod of Kerala witness Kambala during November, December and January. Sometimes it extends up to April.

Tamil Nadu, to circumvent the Supreme Court ban on Jallikattu, promulgated an ordinance and later replaced it with a law which has allowed the traditional game of bull taming, Jallikattu.

Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra told DH, “I have told officials to get a copy of the ordinance promulgated by Tamil Nadu which facilitated Jallikattu. We want to study it.  At present, the matter is before the high court and as per the court order, we cannot allow Kambala. Two Central legislations have banned any game that is seen as cruelty to animals. Hence, it is in the hands of the Centre to take a decision to relax the rules.”

The minister said once the Jallikattu issue erupted in Tamil Nadu, he had convened a meeting of representatives of associations of Kambala in the wake of the court ban. “Jallikattu cannot be equated with Kambala. People in the coastal districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada have sentimental attachment to this traditional game which has a rich history. This game does not harm animals,” said Jayachandra.

The minister said experts from the Karnataka Veterinary University in Bidar had given a report analysing Kambala in 2015. The three-page report had not recommended imposing a ban on Kambala. Based on the report, the high court had permitted Kambala with a host of conditions. But later it was banned. But the point is, Kambala is not being opposed by the government, Jayachandra added.

Sources in the law department said Karnataka should not have any problem in promulgating an ordinance to allow Kambala while taking precautions not to harm animals. As there is unanimity among political parties, the legislature can pass a law in this regard. There are about 20 committees which conduct Kambala in the coastal districts and nearly 15 to 20 races are held spread over three to four months, a source said.

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