The process of importing cattle from Pakistan commenced about six months back much before the relations between the two neighbours witnessed a low, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal today said.
He was responding to questions by media asking him about importing cattle from Pakistan at a time when bilateral relations between India and Pakistan took a hit following the death of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in Lahore jail.
"The process of importing animals from Pakistan began about six months back. I wrote to the Centre, seeking permission to import 'Neeli Ravi' buffaloes and bull from Pakistan for improving the breed of the milch animals.
"As these breeds were not available in India. I obtained clearances from all the concerned departments (in this regard) and paid full amount of (custom) duty whichever was applicable on it," Badal said.
He was here to attend death anniversary of mother of Punjab Rural Development and Panchyats minister Surjit Singh Rakhra.
Notably, animals meant for Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal crossed over to India from Pakistan via the Attari border on Friday evening.
All animals including twelve meant for Parkash Singh Badal and one for his son Sukhbir Badal have been sent to the Kapashera animal quarantine centre in New Delhi in special enclosures.
The animals will be kept at the Kapashera centre for a month and subject to fulfilment of norms, will be sent to the Badals.
The animals included a Neeli Ravi buffalo, which was gifted to Sukhbir Badal by the then Pakistan Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif in November 2012 when he had led a delegation to the neighbouring country and gifted Sharif a tractor.
The other 12 animals that crossed over to India after fulfilling the mandatory quarantine procedure in Pakistan belonged to chief minister.
They included three Sahniwal cows and one bull, three Neeli Ravi buffaloes and bull, three sheep (Balthi) and one ram (male sheep).
Neeli Ravi buffalo has a milk yield of 35 to 40 litres per day and is found mainly in Lahore, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Multan and Bahawal Nagar districts in Punjab province of Pakistan.