In another indication that the recent notification on the regulation of animal markets is likely to be amended, Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday that the government was not viewing it as a “prestige issue” and was seriously going through the objections that have been raised.
The Regulation of Livestock Market Rules, framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, issued last month, bans the trading of cattle, like cows and buffaloes, at animal markets for the purpose of slaughtering them. It was criticised as an attempt by the central government to ban cow slaughter even in the states where it is legal.
The Madras High Court stayed the implementation of the notification for four weeks, and several groups have written to the Environment Ministry to protest against the new rules. “We are carefully studying all the suggestions that we have been receiving. Our officials have also met a few groups of stakeholders,” Harsh Vardhan told reporters on Sunday. “We will do what is the right thing. There is no prestige issue involved here,” he said when asked whether the government was under pressure to make amendments.
Harsh Vardhan is the second minister to give the indication that the contentious rules may be changed. Earlier, Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had also said that the government was open to a review of the order. The representations received by the Environment Ministry have raised three broad objections to the notification. Some of them, mainly from meat traders, want buffalo to be excluded from the purview of the rules so that the domestic meat market and their exports are not affected.
There are others who have raised concerns over the elaborate need for permissions and licences that the new rules bring in. The third set, including some state governments like West Bengal, have challenged the very constitutionality of the Centre notifying such rules when animal markets come under the purview of state governments. Harsh Vardhan reiterated the government’s position that the notification was not meant to control people’s food habits but was just aimed at preventing cruelty to animals at these markets.