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Environment ministry didn’t do enough to defend cattle trade notification – Petitioner Maulekhi

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Gauri Maulekhi, who is also an aide to Union minister Maneka Gandhi, tells ThePrint the Environment ministry backed off thinking that pleasing the vote bank was more important.

A day after the Supreme Court extended the Madras High Court stay on the controversial cattle trade notification, the animal welfare activist behind the rules lamented the Environment ministry had not done enough to defend the notification.

“They just went on a back-foot to please people,” Gauri Maulekhi, who is also an aide to Maneka Gandhi, Union Women and Child Development minister, told ThePrint.

While the objective of the notification was always to prevent cruelty towards cattle, the ministry eventually backed off and thought that pleasing the vote bank was more important, said Maulekhi. “They seemed so apologetic about doing the right thing.”

Maulekhi said that she expects the ministry to dilute the notification in its amendment but it would not exclude buffaloes and only retain cows as feared by some animal welfare activists. That would be “suicidal for this government”, she said. “It would blow up in their face as a religious agenda.”

The government’s objective, she added, is not religious in nature at all.

The petitioner challenging the notification, advocate Abdul Faheem Qureshi, however said that in its re-notification the government must roll back the intended ban on sale of buffaloes for slaughter through animal markets while the ban on cows should remain.

Late Environment minister Anil Madhav Dave, Maulekhi said, was completely on board with the notification. Dismissing the argument that the ministry had rushed the notification through, she said the Environment ministry had done proper diligence before enacting the rules. However, by the time the rules got printed Harsh Vardhan took charge of the ministry and was caught off guard, she added.

Staunchly defending the intention of the notification, Maulekhi, who is also a trustee at People for Animals, said that far from having an adverse impact on slaughter houses, the animal market rules would have made legal slaughter houses more profitable by removing middlemen from the “vicious chain”.

Farmers who are currently exploited by middlemen too would receive a better price for their animals, she added. The only ones who would suffer are those running illegal slaughter houses, middlemen and those smuggling live animals in miserable conditions to neighbouring countries. “It is those people who are making the noise,” Maulekhi said.

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