Beef ban: Agriculture ministry nod came after state’s push
Thousands of people take part in a protest march against the ban on beef, in Maharashtra Tuesday. (Source: IE Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)
A change in the Ministry of Agriculture’s stance, which it held on to for over 20 years, paved the way for the clearance of Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 1995, that affected the ban on cow slaughter and on possession of beef in the state, a senior government official has said. Even after the NDA government came to power, the Ministry had opposed the Bill, but it was cleared after the BJP-led government in Maharashtra pursued the matter directly with the Centre.
After the BJP-Shiv Sena government came to power in Maharashtra, the Home Ministry reminded it of the pending bill and whether it would like to pursue it.
The Bill was first cleared in 1995 by the BJP-Sena government in Maharashtra. The then Governor sent the Bill to the Home Ministry to see if it had overlapping features with any Central law. The successive Congress-UDF governments at the Centre did not clear it and when the BJP came into power at Centre in 1999, the Congress-NCP alliance came into power in Maharashtra and the Bill was pushed into cold storage.
In November 2014, when the Bill was taken up with the state government, it replied in an affirmative and the pending Bill was sent to the Ministry of Agriculture for further comments.
“In November, when we sent the Bill to Agriculture Ministry they said that such an amendment was not possible and objected to it. This was a stand they had been taking since 1995 and they could not have changed the stand all of a sudden. They opposed it primarily on two grounds — first, a blanket ban on cow slaughter would lead to increase in number of old livestock and looking at the paucity of space, it was not be feasible to ban it. The second one being the poor health of livestock and from where so much fodder would come for their consumption,” said the official.
When the Maharashtra government was informed about the ministry’s objection, the state government pursued the matter with the ministry directly. “Addressing the concerns of the Agriculture ministry, Maharashtra replied that they would arrange fodder for them and even construct gaushalas (cow sheds) so that the cattle do not stray after getting old and being abandoned by owners or caretakers. Within days, Agriculture ministry seemed to agree with Maharashtra’s assurance and gave a green signal to the Bill,” said the official. The Bill was sent to President Pranab Mukherjee and he gave his assent.
The official said cow slaughter was already banned in the state and the new Bill, which was an amendment to the existing law, covered ox and bull too.
Source:: Indian Express