The Left-ruled Kerala is exploring legal options to tide over the Centre’s new regulation on cattle trade even as several youth outfits organised beef festivals at many places on Saturday in protest.
Various bodies and political parties reacted sharply to the government's decision to ban the sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter, saying it is an "ill advised" decision which will widen the "terrorism" by cow vigilantes.
The ban, it may be noted, came into place following notification of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act by the Central government.
The new rule, among others, bans trade of cattle for slaughter through animal markets besides restricting their sale for agricultural purposes and taking the animals out of the state without proper approval.
The rule will hurt millions of poor farmers and squeeze supplies to the country’s Rs 1 lakh-crore meat industry besides affecting sectors which derive products from cattle carcass.
While Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan asked whether the Centre will ban the consumption of fish tomorrow, another minister in his cabinet termed the decision as against the Constitution.
The youth wing of CPM, the Student Federation of India (SFI) has organised beef fests across Kerala, in over 200 centres, as a mark of protest against the environment ministry's new rule that came into effect yesterday.
The All India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association agreed and said the decision will badly hit livelihoods. "It is the unproductive cattle that arrives in large numbers for sale as their maintenance cost per day is quite high. The high-yielding milching animals rarely arrive for sale," spokesperson of the association, Fauzan Alavi, said in Lucknow.
Union minister Harsh Vardhan said the rule is meant to "regulate the animal market". But State PWD Minister G Sudhakaran demanded to know if such decisions are being enforced simply through an order. "Has Parliament taken the states into confidence or has there been any discussion with them? These things won't work in Kerala," he said.
The state government has approached legal experts to explore ways to check the new notification.
Claiming that the Centre's step was "unacceptable," Kerala Agriculture Minister VS Sunil Kumar has said: "We will seek legal resort against this. The Centre has taken undue advantage of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and has misused it. By this move, the Central government, in practice, is banning the consumption of meat, which is not acceptable."