Ban on transportation of cattle from Tamil Nadu to Kerala by the Kerala government following spread of foot and mouth disease has affected cattle trade between the two States and also increased smuggling of cattle into the State, according to traders.

About 250 cattle traders and more than 1,000 persons, including load men in Theni district have been rendered jobless for the past 22 days, ever since the ban was imposed.

“We usually send around 1,000 lorry loads of cattle a month to Mundakayyam in Idukki district, one of the major weekly cattle shandies. At present, cattle procured in large numbers from various sources are stagnating with traders,” said K. Krishnan, secretary, Tamil Nadu Cattle Merchants’ Association.

Traders procure cattle from Thirubuvanam, Usilampatti, Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Cuddalore, Dindigul, Oddanchatram, Melur and Vadipatti and stock them in Cumbum and Gudalur before despatching them to Mundakayyam market.

TN Cattle Merchants’ Association president M.P. Murugesan told The Hindu that Kerala officials slapped the ban in the wake of the Tamil Nadu government banning conduct of cattle shandies.

“Kerala officials told us that they would lift the ban only when our State revokes curbs on shandies. Already, stringent norms on transport of cattle had affected trade. Though a big truck can transport 35 cattle, we are permitted to carry only 20,” Mr. Murugesan said.

With increase in fuel price and wages for labourers, it had become tough to carry on cattle trade. Many traders have left the business to become commission agents in Mundakayyam shandy, he added. Association members have decided to meet Kerala Chief Minister Ommen Chandy with an appeal to allow movement of cattle with medical certificates. This might ensure supply of disease-free cattle to Kerala and prevent smuggling. A five-member committee has been formed to meet Mr. Chandy. The traders also alleged that smugglers transport cattle by lorries till Ramakkamettu near Thevaram and then walk them through a forest path to reach Kerala border near Cumbum Mettu. From there, the animals are sent to beef shops directly for a better price.