The central government has decided to withdraw the proposed Livestock and Livestock Products (Importation and Exportation) Bill, 2023, following intense backlash and objections from various quarters. The bill, if passed, could have facilitated the export of live animals from India. Minister of State for Animal Husbandry, Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, hinted at the possibility of the ministry withdrawing the draft bill due to public sentiments.
The decision to withdraw the bill came after concerns were raised by animal rights activists, right-wing groups, and Jain religious leaders. These dissenting voices highlighted issues related to animal welfare, religious sentiments, and cultural beliefs, demanding the withdrawal of the bill. Additionally, a report by Business Standard stated that the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, an organization affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), acknowledged the potential benefits of the bill but stressed the importance of not compromising on religious sentiments.
The Department of Animal Husbandry, in its withdrawal order, acknowledged the need to align the Livestock Importation Act, 1898, with contemporary requirements and prevailing circumstances related to sanitary and phytosanitary measures. However, during the consultation process, it became apparent that more time and wider consultations were necessary to understand the proposed draft and consider the comments and suggestions received. Consequently, with the approval of the competent authority, the proposed draft Bill stands withdrawn, as stated in the official order.
The draft bill had a provision allowing the government to prescribe measures, through official gazette notifications, to promote livestock and livestock product exports. This provision raised concerns among animal rights groups and critics who interpreted it as an attempt to covertly promote the export of live animals, which has been a contentious issue.
Animal rights activists expressed their objections on social media, highlighting the limited time given by the department to receive comments and suggestions from stakeholders, importers, and exporters. The short deadline of 10 days was seen as inadequate for meaningful stakeholder engagement.
In the fiscal year 2022-23, India exported live animals valued at $5.11 million, primarily consisting of sheep and goats. The withdrawal of the Livestock Export Bill draft signifies the government’s responsiveness to public sentiment and the importance placed on respecting animal welfare, religious beliefs, and cultural sensitivities.
As the government withdraws the bill, further discussions and deliberations are expected to take place to address the concerns and interests of various stakeholders involved in the livestock industry, animal rights organizations, and religious communities. This decision reflects the significance of maintaining a balance between economic considerations and safeguarding ethical and cultural values in policy formulation.
Sources By Agencies