On December 9, the Karnataka Legislative Assembly passed the Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2020 prohibiting slaughter of cows, buffalos, and bulls under 13 years of age.
Soon after, cows were brought into the Vidhana Soudha (Secretariat) and Prabhu Chavan (Minister for Animal Husbandry and Fisheries) performed a puja for them stating, “This is the blessings of the six-crore people of Karnataka (and) of senior leaders. I thank the Chief Minister and the leaders for giving me this opportunity. This is the first time that the cow puja has been done here.”
The most striking feature of the bill is its wide ambit. Under section 2, Beef means flesh of the cattle in any form and cattle means “cow, calf of a cow and bull, bullock and he or she buffalo below the age of thirteen years”.
According to The Hindu, the Congress party has vehemently opposed the BJP government’s decision to amend the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Prevention of Animals Act, 1964, as it will increase farmers’ hardship owing to increasing breeding cost and shortage of fodder. The opposition also believes that this will cause massive job loss to people who work in the leather industry in an economy which is already hanging by a thread.
Janta Dal (Secular) leader and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said that his party did not favour the Bill since it imposes unviable pressure on the farmers, subsequently leading to economic distress. He tweeted on December 10 that as a consequence of the law, farmers may stop rearing cattle and this will affect milk production, on which many families are dependent for livelihood.
Section 8 of the Bill empowers the Police to inspect and seize cattle, premises and materials used or intended to be used for transportation, sale, purchase for slaughter. HD Kumaraswamy feared that such provision could lead to misuse and allow the police and other officials to inspect the dairy premises creating “fear psychosis”.
This would increase financial burden on dairy farmers and make dairying a loss-making venture. Already, the farmers are reeling under distress as milk unions have slashed the procurement prices by Rs. Five a litre ever since the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the state.(6/6)
— H D Kumaraswamy (@hd_kumaraswamy) December 10, 2020
Addressing media persons on the Bill, Leader of the Opposition Mr. Siddaramaiah said that Karnataka imports nearly 40% of fodder from other States, and it was extremely difficult for farmers to feed unproductive cows and bulls during drought. Nearly six crore cows stop giving milk in the country every year and farmers incur expenditure of rupees hundred a day per animal on feeding cattle. It is only practical to sell cows and buffaloes once they stop giving milk. He added that the Bill hurts the interests of farmers and accused the BJP Government of trying to polarise communities by targeting only beef and its consumers.
The Hindu reported that Siddaramaiah provided statistics and said India was the third largest exporter of beef and second largest exporter of leather products in the world. With the anti-cattle slaughter law in force, lakhs of people belonging to the marginalised Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, and Other Backward Classes dependent on the leather industry will lose their jobs.
Farmers usually don’t keep a cow beyond five-six calvings, which is approximately when they are 7-8 years old. As and when milk yields fall and the returns don’t justify the costs of feeding and maintenance, they look for selling them. Similarly, for buffaloes, the productive age, too, isn’t beyond 9-10 years. No farmer can afford to wait for 13 years, as the animal ceases to even have any salvage value. The amount that the farmer may receive after sale is way less than it takes for them to feed the cattle during its unproductive years.
According to 20th Livestock census report, the State has 84.69 lakh cows, including local breeds, and 29,84,560 buffaloes. About 23 lakh tonnes of fodder was required per month to feed these domestic animals in the State and farmers have been facing severe shortage of fodder through drought years.
The Opposition parties have strongly recommended the withdrawal of the Bill in the interest of farmers and other sections of the society domesticating such cattle.
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