Finally, change in rules on cattle sale

Finally, change in rules on cattle sale

Nearly a year after the raging controversy, the Union environment and forest ministry has finally offered to change its contentious animal welfare rules that barred traders from purchasing cattle for slaughter from animal markets.

The new draft has no reference to animal slaughter at all. This is in contrast to the previous version where the buyer and seller of a cattle had to give a declaration to government officials that the animal won't be slaughtered.

In the new rules, the sick, unfit and pregnant animals can't be traded in an animal market.

The new draft of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Animal Markets Rules, 2018, is now open for public comments for 30 days after which they would be finalised. Once finalised, it would replace the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) rules, 2017, which flared up a massive row last year.

No conditions have been imposed on the inter-state transport of cattle, a move that is likely to relieve the farmers, transporters and traders as vehicles carrying cattle were targeted by cow vigilantes multiple times in the past leading to violence and deaths.

The definition of "animal market" has also been changed to protect the meat industry. In the previous definition of the "animal market" included "any lairage (a place where a cattle or a sheep is rested before slaughter) adjoining a market or a slaughterhouse".

Since every meat processing units have lairage next to them, the rules had the potential to halt the practice of selling of ageing cattle by the farmers to the meat processing companies.

The only new provision introduced in the draft relates to the presence of an international border.

According to the rules, the authorities managing the market will have to ensure the fair has not used a source supplying cattle to other countries in violation of existing rules. The old draft had 23 clauses with numerous sub-clauses, whereas the new one has 16 clauses.

The workload of district-level veterinary officers was also reduced

A large number of sub-clauses were removed from the old draft that was first stayed by the Madras High Court.

Later the Supreme Court extended the stay for the entire country.

Following the controversy, the Centre assured the Supreme Court that a fresh draft would be brought in. Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan stated that it was not a "prestige issue" for the government, which is ready for a revision.

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