Animal husbandry minister not consulted on contentious livestock bill, RSS affiliate BKS claims

The said bill, which included the word 'bovine' in the definition of animal products, has now been withdrawn
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The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) has appreciated the Minister of animal husbandry and dairying, Parshottam Rupala, for responding quickly to the concerns raised by animal rights activists against the Livestock and Livestock Products (Importation and Exportation) Bill 2023. This came days after the withdrawal of the said contentious bill, which was intended to broaden the scope of animals including dogs and cats, as well as livestock products including bovine organs, that can be exported and imported, was announced.

Dinesh D Kulkarni, BKS organising secretary, told the Times of India that “We believe that the minister was not in the loop during drafting of the proposed legislation. The draft Bill appeared to be a handiwork of someone within the bureaucracy to defame the government by inserting objectionable provisions. It’s good that the minister intervened and thwarted such a design on time.” He went on to point out that the inclusion of the word ‘bovine’ in the definition of animal products could have spelled the doom for the cow population, as well as harmed people’s cultural and religious values.

What did the bill contain?

The draft Bill defined “livestock products” to encompass all types of meat and meat products, such as fresh, chilled, and frozen meat, tissue, and organs of bovine, poultry, pig, sheep and goat. It also included embryos, ova, and sperm, as well as animal-derived pet food and any other animal product. The only change between the 2001 Amendment Act and the now-withdrawn Bill was the addition of one word: bovine.

The draft Bill had also expanded the categories of animals that could be imported and exported, stating that “livestock” includes all equines (all live equine irrespective of purpose including donkey, horses, mule, assess, hinnies), bovines (all bovine animals including cattle, buffaloes, bullocks, or any animals falling in the category of Bovidae), caprine’s, ovine’s, swine’s, canines, felines, avian, laboratory animals, aquatic

Concerns were expressed by stakeholders, including animal rights activists, about how such a definition could have indirectly promoted not only cow slaughter but also the breeding of street dogs for live export or dog meat, resulting in much cruelty to animals. They are now relieved that the proposal has been withdrawn. The withdrawal of the draft was a much welcomed move, bringing relief to the animal rights activists.

As per Bharati Ramachandran, CEO, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation (FIAPO), an animal rights NGO, “The Bill in itself did not have sufficient content to merit a response/ recommendations. It was an enabler legislation that would enable the government to pass any gazette notifications from time to time regarding live animal trade. So the only response was to withdraw it,” as reported by TOI.

Furthermore, the now withdrawn Bill had defined “livestock, products of livestock origin, livestock genetic material, biological products and pathological material of livestock origin” as commodities.

Upon this, the FIAPO CEO Ramachandran had said that “Live and sentient animals were defined as commodities, a terminology absent in the 2001 Amendment as well as in the original Act,” as per the TOI report.

When asked if the provisions provided in the now withdrawn bill could have helped with the problem of stray dogs, Sirjana Nijjar, director of FIAPO, responded, “It is completely incorrect to say that the Bill could check the stray dog menace. To begin with, wandering dogs are not a threat. Second, the Bill might have resulted in the illicit breeding of street dogs for live export or dog meat. The truth is that Bill might have unlocked Pandora’s Box and exported every animal. And this could lead to the illegal breeding of all animals. We could have started exporting donkeys to China, allowing breeding farms to thrive,” the TOI reported.


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