OVER 1,900 people have responded to a call from the state’s Department of Animal Husbandry to serve as “eyes to monitor the beef ban”. The “unprecedented response” followed a drive to appoint special animal welfare officers to help police and the animal husbandry department in implementing the amended Maharashtra Protection of Animals Act ,1995.
After scrutinising the applications received, the Commissionerate of Animal Husbandry has forwarded the above applications to the High Court-appointed Committee to Monitor Animal Welfare Laws headed by C S Dharmadhikari (retired judge, Bombay High Court). It is the committee that will make the formal appointments as well as issue identity cards for the officers. The applicants had been asked to file an affidavit stating that they are pursuing animal welfare as a social cause and are disassociating themselves from religious or political affiliations.
“This initiative was taken by the former animal husbandry commissioner (S S Bhosale), who has since retired. There was no consultation within the committee for taking this step. This was his own idea and he released the advertisement in his department. In response, a huge number of applications have come. The committee is yet to apply its mind whether to admit these people as animal welfare officers or not to admit. Because the question of supervision will come,” said a committee member.
In May, the animal husbandry commissioner had issued an advertisement for appointment of honorary special animal welfare officers to help in implementation of the ban. The post gives the person responsibility to make the police accountable to act on a complaint. Every volunteer needs to be recommended by an animal welfare organisation, or a registered body, which can vouch for the applicant’s integrity.
Based on the applications forwarded, the district of Amravati is likely to see the appointment of 435 such officers. Buldhana (280), Solapur (244) and Nanded (195) will in all likelihood be the districts with the next highest number of such appointments in the state.
“If such a large number of people are appointed, how do we ensure they work within the four walls of law. There is so much activism in this field now and many a times untoward incidents also happen. This needs a serious consideration which will be done in the next meeting in August. We will make the final decision only in this meeting,” the committee member added.