After livestock exporters moved the Gujarat High Court challenging orders of Directorate General of Shipping and Kutch district magistrate, which have stalled exports of livestock from Tuna port, the DG, Shipping, submitted to the HC that it had withdrawn permission granted to mechanised sailing vessels to ferry livestock as “two views were expressed and it was decided to err on the side of caution.”
The DG, Shipping’s affidavit has only confounded the situation as it clearly mentions that there was no blanket ban on carrying livestock by sea, on any vessel registered under it, except those banned from faring in monsoon.
The affidavit filed by assistant director general of shipping, Sandeep Awasthi, does not specify the “two views” and who had expressed them but further states that decision of the DG, shipping was not directed at Livestock Exporters Association (LEA). “The decision of DG, Shipping has nothing to do with the cargo and is not directed towards Live Stock Association (sic). In fact, all vessels registered under D.G.Shipping (except sailing vessels which have been banned to sail in the monsoon period) are still allowed to carry live stock (sic) as their cargo,” it states. On Tuesday, the matter came up for hearing and was adjourned to Friday.
After representations from Federation of All India Sailing Vessels Industry Association (FAISVIA) and Salaya Sailing Vessels Owners Association, the DG, shipping had issued a notice on August 3, allowing MSVs or country crafts to sail during the month of August and carry only livestock. Livestock exporters of Gujarat then started transporting livestock to Tuna-Vandi villages near Tuna port from August 3. However, the Kutch DM Remya Mohan issued an order on August 6, suspending movement of livestock at Tuna port until further orders and formed a committee to look into possible violation of provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The committee submitted a report the following day stating the exporters had violated the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals act as there was not enough fodder and some enclosures were overcrowded (at the animal parking site outside the port). On August 8, the DG, shipping issued a corrigendum, withdrawing with immediate effect permission to MSVs to operate during the month of August. In its affidavit filed on August 23, the DG, shipping has defended the corrigendum on the ground that there were two views at the time of granting conditional sailing permission to MSVs through the August 3 notice. “…there is general ban on Mechanised Sailing Vessels (MSVs) in the monsoon period since 7.8.2009. The Shipping (sic) vessels owners had requested for relaxation from this ban. The request of the sailing vessels owners was considered and two views were expressed. However, it was decided to err on the side of caution in the interest of safety and security of vessels and the crew,” states the affidavit by Awasthi.
Country crafts have been sailing in the Arabian sea for centuries. However, through a notification in 2009, the DG, shipping had prohibited these wooden vessels from operating during monsoon for safety of craft and crew. Since then, MSVs are not allowed to sail from June 1 to August 31 every year.
The Kutch DM, through an affidavit, has submitted that she had received complaints about cruelty to animals and that she had powers to order the suspension of movement of livestock at Tuna. She has submitted that the exporters could not produce health certificate of goats and sheep from source of their origin, and transport permission from regional transport office concerned.
However, Mohsim Noor Muhammad Noor alias Adil Noor, secretary of LEA and petitioner has filed rejoinders to the affidavits and contended that the corrigendum of DG, Shipping was arbitrary. “Notice dated 8/8/2018 is non-speaking and does not disclose any reason whatsoever for revoking the conditional permission. Furthermore, in Reply also, the only thing that is contended that there were two views and the Director General erred on the side of caution… DG Shipping have (sic) not produced any documents whatsoever to suggest what were the two views,” the petitioner has contended his rejoinder.
He has also contended the DG, Shipping submission that its notice of August 3 did not have approval of director general of shipping, pointing out that the notice and the corrigendum had been signed by the same officer. Noor has also claimed that nobody had complained about livestock exports to Kutch DM and that she acted at the behest of her political masters.