The Maharashtra government Thursday told the Bombay High Court that it has firmed up it policy to rehabilitate the owners and drivers of the iconic horse-drawn carriages ‘Victorias.’ In June 2015, the high court had asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to put a complete stop to these iconic carriage rides as they were “illegal and violative of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.”
The court had then directed the state government to frame a comprehensive policy to rehabilitate the carriage owners and drivers who were to be affected by the ban, besides one for the horses. The state government today filed an affidavit saying a policy has been firmed up through a government resolution on June 16 this year.
The affidavit was submitted to a division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice N M Jamdar today. “As per the approved policy, the Victoria horse carriage owner and driver shall be eligible for a vendor license under the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending Maharashtra Scheme),” the affidavit said.
It added that by way of financial aid, a sum of up to Rs three lakhs would be given to the drivers and owners. “With regard to rehabilitation of the horses, the owners may either sell their horses or give the horses to NGOs who would take care of the animals,” the affidavit said.
“The state Cabinet has instructed the Animal Husbandry Department to frame a comprehensive policy to take care of the safety and health of the horses in this process,” the affidavit said. The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by city-based NGO ‘Animals and Birds Charitable Trust’ alleging cruelty to horses by using them for joyrides.