Will remove misunderstandings on cattle sale rules – Minister Harsh Vardhan

Environment minister tells ThePrint no compromise on spirit of new rules. Defends appointment of mostly cow experts to Animal Welfare Board.

The Central government issued the notification curbing the sale of cattle for slaughter as no rules had been made under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act for the last 50 years but it has decided to take a relook at it not due to political pressure but to “remove misunderstandings”, environment minister Harsh Vardhan said Wednesday.

“There were no rules made under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act for the last 50 years, and it is under this Act that we made the notification,” Harsh Vardhan told ThePrint. “However, as soon as the notification was made public, a barrage of apprehensions came our way. It was said that the notification is a crackdown on people’s food habits, slaughtering, export (of meat).”

“But we have no hidden or political agenda, so we want to go ahead and remove the misunderstandings,” he said, but added that “there would be no compromise on the spirit of the notification”. The controversial new rules ban the sale of cows and buffaloes for slaughter through animal markets and have drawn criticism and outrage from several state governments.

Responding to questions being raised over the reconstitution of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and the appointment of at least seven members with experience in cow welfare – reported first by ThePrint – Harsh Vardhan said “there is nothing wrong with being a cow-bhakt”. “Isn’t the cow an animal?” he asked, even as he clarified that he was not the environment minister at the time of the reconstitution of the board and was not aware of the backgrounds of the members until Tuesday.

Six of the eight new independent members had said in separate interviews to ThePrint that they have experience in cow-related initiatives like running cow shelters, researching cow urine and cow dung therapy.

On why no previous member was reappointed on the board as had been the norm in its decades-long history, the minister said, “There is no rule in the country that once a member, always a member. Under Modi-ji, many new things have happened for the first time.”

Picture courtesy Facebook page of Harsh Vardhan.

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