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Centre bans sale of cows for slaughter at animal markets

In a move that is expected to have huge repercussions on the country’s meat industry, the government has banned the sale of cattle at animal markets for the purpose of slaughter.

According to the Central regulation, only farmland owners will be allowed cattle business at animal markets. The notification covers bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers and calves, as well as camel.

The rules make it mandatory for the cattle buyers to give an undertaking citing that animals are not for slaughter. The market committees will have to check the buyers’ bonafides and keep records of sale and preserve it for six months, said the government notification effective from Friday.

“Take an undertaking that the animals are bought for agriculture purposes and not for slaughter,” reads a directive to committees overseeing animal markets in the rule notified under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act of 1960 that gives the Centre powers over animal welfare. Importantly, the eight page rule also says cattle buyers cannot sell the animals outside the state without permission.

“Taking animal outside the state will require special approval of the state government nominee,” it said.

While the new rules prohibits sale of “young” and “unfit animals,” it prescribes about 30 norms for animal welfare in markets, including water, fans, bedding, ramps, non-slippery flooring, veterinary facility and separate enclosure for sick animals.

The regulations also make it mandatory for veterinary inspector to certify proper loading and unloading of animals to ensure they are not cramped inside trucks.

“No animal market will now be able to run without approval of district animal market committee to be headed by a magistrate and having two representatives of government-approved animal welfare groups,” it further added.

The rules have been drafted following the Supreme Court directions aimed at improving condition of animals in these markets.

Over the last year, rumours of cow slaughter and the sale of beef have triggered violence in parts of the country and is a sensitive political topic since the BJP led government came to power in 2014 with several BJP led states enacting strict laws to punish cow slaughter.

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