Camel herders and cattle ranchers in Rajasthan have long been leading sustained opposition and protests against the Rajasthan Camel Act 2015 (ban on slaughter and regulation of migration or temporary exports), citing loss of livelihoods and businesses since then. the law was passed by the Rajasthan Assembly in 2015.
Over time, the controversial law was raised in the State Assembly and the High Court of Rajasthan also learned suo motu of the plight of the camel herders after Indian express reported the problem in august. At the Pushkar Cattle Fair, the largest cattle fair involving camels from Rajasthan, members of the camel herding communities Raika and Raibari were vocal in their warning to the government that if the law is not changed, the camel population in Rajasthan could decline further.
What is the camel conservation law of Rajasthan?
The Rajasthan Camel Slaughter (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act 2015 aims to prohibit the slaughter of camels and regulate temporary migration or export from Rajasthan .
By law, no one shall possess, sell or transport for sale or cause to be sold or transported camel meat or camel meat products in any form. He further adds that it is prohibited for anyone to export and have a camel exported by himself or through his agent, attendant or other person acting on his behalf from any place within the country. State to any location outside the State for the purpose of slaughter or with the knowledge that it may be or is likely to be slaughtered.
The law also regulates the temporary migration of camels, stipulating that a “competent authority” may issue a special permit in the manner prescribed for their export from Rajasthan for agricultural or dairy purposes or for participation in an animal fair, and before to grant such authorization, the competent authority The Authority must also ensure that such an export does not in any way reduce the number of such camels below the level of the real needs of the local area.
This provision requires that for the migration of each camel out of Rajasthan for any purpose, including lawful sale, the authorization of the competent authority must be required.
By law, a competent authority means collector of a district and includes any other officer who may be authorized in that name by the state government by notification in the official gazette.
What were the reasons the law was passed?
The BJP government, then headed by Vasundhara Raje, passed the Camel Conservation Act, citing that the animal is in danger and needs to make sincere efforts for its conservation and protection.
“Several cases of intentional killings of camels and their offspring have come to light. It has also been observed that a large number of camels are transported or transported from Rajasthan to other states for slaughter. The conditions of recurrent famine and famine in the state tend to further increase this threat. The existing laws are not sufficient to tackle this problem ”, clarifies the declarations of objects and reasons of the law of 2015.
The government of Rajasthan at the time reasoned that the law was necessary after considering “the social, cultural and economic usefulness and contribution of camels”.
“Taking into account the usefulness and the social, cultural and economic contribution of camels, and to ensure their conservation, it is therefore, in the general interest, to enact a new law to prohibit the slaughter of camels as well as to prohibit the export of these animals for slaughter and to regulate, for other purposes, 26 the temporary migration or export of these animals in order to protect the camel species as well as the interests of the public that benefit, ”the state government said.
What was its impact?
Members of the Raika and Raibari communities, who have kept camels for generations, say camel herders say the process of obtaining permission to transport camels out of state under the 2015 law is taking often months. This has resulted in a decline in the number of buyers from other states outside of Rajasthan, who were previously the main customers who bought camels at cattle fairs.
A look at the data of camels brought to the Pushkar Cattle Fair shows a substantial decrease from the previous one. According to data from Rajasthan Animal Husbandry Department, in 2011, 8,238 camels were brought to the fair for sale, but this figure fell to 3,298 camels in 2019.
Since the law was enacted, difficulty in finding clients has resulted in dire economic conditions for camel herders, says Hanwant Singh, camel conservation activist, director of Lokhit Pashupalak Sangsthan.
As a result, in recent years there have been sustained protests from camel herders, their concern being heightened by the fact that the camel population in Rajasthan has steadily declined.
According to provisional data from the 20th Rajasthan Cattle Census, in 2019 there were 2.12 lakh of camels in the state, which is much lower than the 2012 figure, while there were 3.2 lakh of camels in the state. camels in the state.
What is the position of the outgoing government of Rajasthan regarding the law?
In September this year, Rajasthan’s Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Lalchand Kataria, told the State Assembly that 84.43% of the country’s total camels are in Rajasthan and that their population has steadily declined over the past 30 years.
The minister said that at the next session of the Assembly, a government commission decided that certain amendments would be made to the 2015 law to allow camel migration and ensure that farmers, who have stopped raising camels after the adoption of the law, be encouraged. to do it all over again.
The case is also being watched by the High Court of Rajasthan, which has appointed attorney Prateek Kasliwal as amicus curiae to assist the court on the case. In his report to the High Court, Kasliwal calls, among other things, to make the necessary changes to the 2015 law.
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