The Union Ministry of Shipping has decided to ban the export of livestock from all sea ports in the country for an indefinite period following representations from animal rights activists, Union Minister of State for Shipping, Mansukh Mandaviya, told The Indian Express.
“We received information that sheep and goats were being exported from the Tuna port of DPT (Deendayal Port Trust in Kutch). We have banned livestock export from all ports. The livestock consignment in question was to be shipped to Dubai. Since the consignment was headed to Dubai, it meant they were being exported for slaughter. There were demands from the public to stop export of livestock for the purpose of slaughter,” Mandaviya said.
Shipments to the UAE take place mainly ahead of Eid Al-Adha and Bakr-Id, which is marked by the sacrifice of animals such as goats and sheep, apart from bovines and camels.
Bakr-Id is expected to fall this year on August 22.
“There were many complaints and representations from jivdaya premis (those advocating compassion towards all living beings) and animal rights activists. A few days ago, people had agitated against the export of livestock from Nagpur airport also. Therefore, we have decided to impose a blanket ban on export of livestock from all sea ports. The Gujarat government had also submitted a representation in this regard,” Mandaviya said, adding that the ban would be for an indefinite period.
Ironically, the decision comes at a time when the export of livestock from India has boomed during the NDA government. From Rs 69.30 crore in 2013-14, the value of shipments rose continuously to Rs 527.40 crore in 2016-17, before falling to Rs 411.02 crore in 2017-18, according to Commerce Ministry data.
The export mainly comprised live sheep and goats, with the value at Rs 460.78 crore in 2015-16, Rs 519.03 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 401.64 crore in 2017-18. The main countries to which live animals were exported included the UAE (Rs 336.20 crore, Rs 369.50 crore and Rs 211 crore during the three fiscals) and Nepal (Rs 107.97 crore, Rs 147.37 crore and Rs 187.83 crore).
When contacted by The Indian Express, Shipping Secretary Gopal Krishna said, “There have been public protests in various places, including Maharashtra and Gujarat, against the export of livestock. The Shipping Ministry has issued these orders to maintain public order.”
In what appears to be a related decision, the Shipping Ministry has withdrawn permission for country crafts — Mechanised Sailing Vessels (MSV) — to operate from ports in Gujarat, five days after it allowed them to sail with livestock under certain conditions.
Movement of country craft remains prohibited off India’s shores from June 1 to August 31 every year as the sea is considered too rough for wooden vessels but traders said the latest ban was aimed at curbing the export of livestock.
“Big merchant vessels accept only large consignments of cargo while livestock is exported in small consignments of 1,500-2,000 heads. We are completely dependent on county craft,” said Adil Noor, president of Livestock Exporters Association, Gujarat (LEAG), an unregistered organisation.
Noor said the Union Shipping Ministry’s decision will spell doom for the industry. “People have been in this business for more than 40 years and the industry supports around 40,000 families in Gujarat and Rajasthan. What will they do now? The exporters have booked orders from Gulf countries for supplying livestock and many have taken bank loans. They will be forced to commit suicide by this decision,” Adil Noor, LEAG president, said.
Tuna port in Kutch, which is controlled by DPT, and Mumbai port are the only facilities on the western coast designated for livestock export.
Last month, animal rights activists stalled the export of around 6 lakh livestock heads from Nagpur airport in Maharashtra.
On Sunday, the Gujarat government barred the movement of livestock at Tuna port, at a time when nearly 8,000 sheep and goats were set to be exported to Dubai. Later, an official committee concluded that exporters had not followed “due procedure” in sourcing and transporting the animals.
Jamnagar-based Federation of All India Sailing Vessels Industry Association (FAISVIA) said they will approach the Union Shipping Minister over the ban. “Livestock is the only major cargo that country craft get from Indian ports. The export of livestock has been going on for the last 50 years. It is unfair if the government prohibits it just because animal rights activists made a representation,” Digant Joshi, FAISVIA president, said.