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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

‘2015 Act caused camel population to decline further’

In August, the Rajasthan High Court had taken suo motu cognisance of news reports in The Indian Express on the declining number of camels in the state.

Written by Hamza Khan | Jaipur |
Updated: November 13, 2021 5:51:37 pm
Camels, Rajasthan camel, Rajasthan high court, Indian express camel report, Camel population, Rajasthan news, Indian expressThe report stated that section 3 of the 2015 Act prohibits slaughtering of camels yet it continues illegally. (File)

Camels continue to be “slaughtered illegally” even as camel herders continue to suffer “colossal monetary loss,” a report submitted to the Rajasthan High Court has said.

In August, the High Court had taken suo motu cognisance of news reports in The Indian Express on the declining number of camels in the state. The court had subsequently appointed advocate Prateek Kasliwal as amicus curiae to assist the court on the matter.

In his report submitted to the High Court earlier this week, Kasliwal calls for necessary amendments to The Rajasthan Camel (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 2015, among a host of other things.

The report says that when the camel was declared a state animal and the Act came into effect, the camel herders expected that “finally their camels will be saved, but to their shock, the Act of 2015 did not in any way help in preserving the camel population. Rather it caused the camel population to decline even further than what was there before the Act came into effect.”

The report stated that section 3 of the 2015 Act prohibits slaughtering of camels yet it continues illegally. It added that the objective of the 2015 Act was safeguarding camels from slaughter but by banning their export, transportation or breeding, it has “negated the intent of the Act of 2015 as a whole.”

And due to this ban on slaughtering and export of camels, “their utility for herders has declined, resultantly, the camel herders are trying to get rid of their herds by illegally selling them to slaughter houses as they neither have any means to feed or take care of the camels.” And “a blanket ban” on transportation of both male and female camels has led to a “colossal monetary loss” for herders.

The report says that “due to stringent regulatory checks with regards to export of camels, it appears to have been seen that the same has created an artificial demand-supply mismatch, which consequently, led to falling prices as camels could not be exported or sold to buyers in other states.”

“Camels are also used for the purposes of transportation, breeding, etc. which has not found any mention in the Act…making it almost impossible for the camel herders to generate income from their herds,” it said.

Kasliwal has submitted a host of recommendations with the High Court (see box), including proper implementation of the scheme for incentivising camel breeding. The state government had launched a scheme to pay Rs 10,000 to a camel farmer, in three installments, for each calf born, but according to the report, most received only the first installment and many others didn’t receive any aid whatsoever.

The report also recommends changes in the 2015 Act itself to make it “less stringent.” Speaking in the state Assembly in September, Animal Husbandry minister Lalchand Kataria had said that the government is serious towards conservation of camels and will bring a Bill to amend the 2015 Act.

The total number of camels in the state was nearly 3.25 lakh in 2012 and had dropped to 2.13 lakh by 2019, as per figures from the Livestock Census. However, Hanwant Singh, secretary of Lokhit Pashu Palak Sansthan, an NGO which works with camel pastoralists, had claimed then that the actual number of camels in the state was closer to 1.5 lakh.

Recommendations by amicus curiae:

· Secure, establish, maintain camel grazing areas

· Establish a market for camel milk

· Invest in value addition to camel raw materials

· Incentivise heritage and other hotels to utilise and showcase camel products

· Sanctuaries for preserving camels

· Funding by the government/proper implementation of Camel Development Scheme

· Amendment in provisions of the 2015 Act

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