The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules notified on Tuesday by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, which imposes a number of new regulations for the way animal markets are organized, has largely invoked opposition from farmers and activists here.
While welcoming certain provisions of the rules that facilitate proper treatment of animals in the markets, a number of farmers and activists The Hindu interacted with took strong exception to the rules, particularly the provision prohibiting the sale of cattle for slaughter or religious sacrifices at these markets.
According to Section 22 of the rules that deals with sale of cattle, which is defined as “a bovine animal including bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers and calves and includes camels”, both the seller and the buyer must give an undertaking that the cattle will not be traded for slaughter or sacrifice for religious purposes.
P. Tamilalagan, a graduate farmer, who is the president of a milk producers cooperative society in Alanganallur here, said:“None of the farmers, including I, want to see their cow or bull slaughtered. However, our economic situation and the non-viability of profitable farming force us to sell the cattle if they fall ill or are far beyond their productive years. How can that not be allowed?” he asked.
V.R. Muthupeyandi, a farmer from Pullaneri here, said that the rules were an indication of the misplaced priorities of the government, which should have instead focussed on other pressing livelihood concerns of the farmers.
“These rules will not stop sale of cattle for slaughter since it has to happen anyway. The sale would now happen outside the markets, which will perhaps escalate the cost and also impose an avoidable impression that the traders are doing something unlawful,” he said.
Pointing out that Madurai district has thriving weekly animal markets in places like Vadipatti, Melur, Samayanallur and Tirumangalam, M. Tirupathi, a farmer from Kulamangalam here, said that the rules will bring unnecessary bureaucratic intervention, leading to corruption. “Why is the Union government, which talks about minimum government, bringing elaborate bureaucratic procedures for things that could be enforced easily otherwise? ” he asked.
He also said that certain provisions prohibiting the painting of horns and decoration of animals were insensitive to local culture.
Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, managing trustee, Senaapathy Kangayam Cattle Research Foundation, said that the rules were a two-pronged strategy of the BJP-led government to discourage rearing of native breeds of cattle and push their religious agenda.
“Only if farmers are allowed to do away with unproductive cattle, they can rear the calves. Moreover, why is the government including just cows and bulls, the meat of which is largely consumed by religious minorities and Dalits, and strangely camels, which are sacrificed by a section of Muslims?” he asked.