The Maharashtra assembly on Thursday passed a legislation for resumption of bullock cart races across the state close on the heels of Tamil Nadu recently enacting a law to regularise its rural sport Jallikattu.
The Bill was passed unanimously with support of all parties.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Maharashtra Amendment) Bill would regularise the bullock race, a popular sport in rural Maharashtra which had been banned in 2014 on the ground that it caused pain and suffering to the bullocks.
Rounding up the debate on the bill, Animal Husbandry Minister Mahadev Jankar said the amendment was being made to the central act, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, in view of the vital role of the bullock cart race in preserving and promoting the tradition and culture.
He said there was also a need to ensure survival and continuance of the native breed of bulls.
Unless the necessary amendments were made to the central act, the bullock cart races could not be conducted lawfully, he said.
As per the amendment, bullock cart races could be held with the prior permission of the district collector concerned by ensuring that no pain or suffering would be caused to the animal.
If the person in charge of the animals conducts the race violating the rules, he would be punished with fine up to Rs 5 lakh or imprisonment up to three years.
The preservation of the native breeds of bulls and their purity, safety, security and wellbeing have also taken into the account in the Bill, he said.
As per the provision of the new law, ambulance facility too would be made available for the bulls during the races, the minister said.
The legislation defined the bullock cart race as an event involving bulls or bullocks to conduct a race with the animals tied to a cart by a wooden yoke, with or without a cartman.
The rural sport is known as ‘bailgada sharyat,’ ‘chhakadi’ or ‘shankarpath’ in the state.
The races were banned after the Supreme Court declared that the race as violative of the provisions of the central act in 2014.
After the Tamil Nadu government enacted a law to regulate jallikattu (taming of the bull), there was a demand to revive bullock races in Maharashtra.