India bans cattle sale for slaughter at animal markets

New Delhi: In a move that might deprive meat suppliers of stock and also will hurt farmers across the country, the Indian central government has banned the sale of cows for slaughter at animal markets across India, report The Hindu.

According to a Hindustan Times report, the new regulations permit trade only between farmland owners. The first central regulation for cattle, it will cover cows, bulls, bullocks, buffalos, steers, heifers and camels.

The report suggests that Muslim cow traders will be the hardest hit group, amid growing violence by cow vigilantes.

The rules direct committees controlling animal markets to ‘take an undertaking that the animals are bought for agriculture purposes and not for slaughter’.

Currently, cow slaughter is banned by most states excluding Kerala and parts of Northeast India.

Uttar Pradesh leads the meat business in India, which amounted to around Rs 1 crore with exports valuing around Rs 26,303 in 2016-17.

The state is followed by Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Telangana in meat business, according to the report. It also stated that several states hold weekly animal markets near borders to bring traders from adjacent states.

The new rules will also make the cost of the animal’s upkeep at a shelter the owner’s responsibility.

Kerala condemns
The notification drew the strongest response from Kerala, where Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan declared it was part of a plan to further the RSS agenda. He said in a statement that the Centre’s action was contrary to diversity, which is the core of Indian democracy. All major parties in the State, barring the BJP, were critical of the decision with the Congress Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala describing the notification as a threat to human rights.

Impact on industry
While individuals have not been prevented from selling cattle for slaughter, representatives from the meat and livestock industry have expressed serious concern about the impact of the notification.

He said that 90% of buffaloes are sourced from mandis by middlemen for sale in slaughterhouses against a mere 10% that is bought directly from farmers.

He added while the Centre is empowered to frame rules, implementation of the regulation of livestock falls under the State government’s ambit.

Sources said that Harsha Vardhan, who recently took charge as the new Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, is likely to meet the industry representatives soon.