Govt doesn’t want to change food habits: Harsh Vardhan on cattle trade ban | health | Hindustan Times
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Govt doesn’t want to change food habits: Harsh Vardhan on cattle trade ban

Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan says the cattle trade rules have been blown out of proportion, it has been misunderstood.

health Updated: Jun 13, 2017 15:11 IST
Harsh Vardhan spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Beijing.
Harsh Vardhan spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Beijing.((PTI File Photo))

The environment ministry on May 25 issued rules that restrict the sale of cattle through cattle markets for slaughter, a move that will hit poor farmers and squeeze supplies to India’s Rs 1 lakh-crore meat industry.

Harsh Vardhan, who recently took over as environment minister, has sought to clarify the controversial cattle slaughter rules. “The issue has been blown out of proportion, it has been misunderstood,” the union minister, said, adding that the ministry was actively reviewing the rules and considering amendments.

“The aim of the rules was to prevent cruelty to the animals he said, “It has nothing to do with the slaughter business, it has nothing to do with changing your food habits.”

The notification covers a host of animals: cows, buffaloes, bullocks, calves and camels. The rules allow only farmland owners to trade cattle at markets, allegedly to limit the trade of the cattle only for agricultural purposes not for slaughter.

However, the rules have been viewed as a surreptitious way of imposing a beef ban and advancing the BJP’s Hindutva agenda.

The union ministry rules are already facing legal challenges from states.While welfare of animals is a union ministry subject, regulation of cattle trade falls within the purview of the state government. It has not only triggered a political storm but also given rise to much confusion.

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court placed a four- week stay on the notification on May 30 noting that it went against the constitutional rights of people to life including right to food. A Kerala High Court judge last week dismissed a petition challenging the rules, noting that they did not imply a blanket ban on cow slaughter.

The pushback is not limited to states, some within the BJP are unhappy with the rules. A few BJP members in Meghalaya resigned in protest.

However, the rules are already hitting the meat industry that employs many Muslims. The meat industry exports were worth Rs.26,303 crore in 2016-17.

A union minister for state in the BJP government, Ramesh Jigajinagi, said that the cattle ban was here to stay. “We worship cows. No matter which state objects, we will bring the law into effect,” he said.

However, the environment minister indicated that in view of the opposition the ministry would take another hard look at the rules. “For us, it is not a prestige issue,” Harsh Vardhan said.