Following massive protests by cattle-rearing communities, the Gujarat Legislative Assembly on Wednesday unanimously withdrew a Bill aimed at prohibiting the movement of stray cattle on roads and public places in urban areas of the State, in a bid to pacify the communities ahead of the State polls. On Wednesday, the community members held protests by spilling milk on roads.
The Bill passed in the last Budget session in April this year was taken back after State Governor Acharya Devvrat returned the ‘Gujarat Cattle Control (Keeping and Moving) In Urban Areas Bill’ to the State government with a request to “reconsider it and make necessary amendments.”
On September 18, the cattle-rearers held a huge convention warning the State authorities that if the Bill was not withdrawn, they would launch Statewide protests and stop supplying milk to dairies.
The Bill mandated that the cattle-rearers were required to obtain a licence to keep animals such as stray cows and bulls in cities and towns and get them tagged, failing which they might face police action.
On Wednesday, which happened to be the first day of the two-day Assembly session, the proposal to withdraw the Bill was tabled for vote by Minister of State for Urban Development Vinod Moradiya.
Ahead of the vote, Assembly Speaker Nimaben Acharya informed the House that the Bill was returned by the Governor on September 17 with his message.
“In his message, the Governor said he had received representations from the Maldhari (cattle-rearers) community against the Bill. Cattle-rearing is a part of our life. Therefore, in view of the representations, the Governor said he is returning the Bill for reconsideration and making necessary amendments,” the Speaker said, while reading out the Governor’s message.
The Bill was cleared in the last Assembly session on April 1 amid protests by the Opposition Congress, which had termed it as a “black Act” during the discussion in the House proceedings.
However, despite the protests from the Opposition party members, the ruling party leaders insisted that the Bill was necessary because the practice of keeping cattle such as cows, buffaloes, bulls and goats, in urban areas was causing trouble for the city-dwellers as the cattle-rearers let their animals stray on roads and other public places.
The Bill mandated that after getting a licence for their cattle, the owner was required to get the cattle tagged and refrained from letting the cattle move on roads or any other public places in the city.
If the owner fails to get its cattle tagged in 15 days, he will be punished with imprisonment which may extend up to one year or a penalty of ₹10,000 or both, as per the provisions of the Bill.
The sale of fodder for cattle in non-designated areas in cities is also prohibited under the Bill as it creates nuisance in the public places and particularly on the roads.
Moreover, any person who assaults officials or creates hurdles during cattle catching operations by the civic officials, will be punished with one year of imprisonment and a minimum fine of ₹50,000.
Cattle without tags would be seized and shifted to a permanent shed by the authorities and released after taking a fine of ₹50,000.
As soon as the Bill was passed, huge protests had broken out across the State by the Maldhari community, prompting the government to keep it on hold.
“In his message, the Governor said he had received representations from the Maldhari (cattle-rearers) community against the Bill”Nimaben AcharyaGujarat Assembly Speaker