New Delhi: To prevent cruelty to animals and cattle smuggling, the Union environment ministry has now proposed new rules to ensure that animals that are seized or abandoned are treated with care.

The proposed rules ban owners from forcing animals to dance, use of body paints on animals, cold or hot branding or putting any decorative materials on animals.

The draft ‘Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals Rules, 2016’ and ‘Prevention of Regulation of Livestock Markets Rules, 2016’ rules were notified by environment minister Anil Madhav Dave earlier this week.

The rules include a complete set of procedures on how to take care of animals seized by authorities. It covers animals such as bulls, bullocks, cows, buffalos, steers, heifers and calves, camels, sheep, goat, horse, pony, donkey, mule, camel and all other ruminating animals, pig and poultry.

Thousands of cattle are smuggled across the borders into Nepal for sacrifice and Bangladesh for slaughter every year. But animals seized by the security forces are either returned to the accused pending litigation, or auctioned, defeating the purpose of the whole exercise.

The draft ‘Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals Rules 2016’ proposes that whenever an animal is seized, the magistrate may direct the animal to be housed at an infirmary or with an animal welfare organization during the pendency of the litigation.

In cases where the animals are abandoned or are voluntary relinquished to authorities, they can be given for adoption on the basis that it will not be slaughtered, not abandoned again or sacrificed.

Cattle fairs are organized across the country and some of them attract a large number of tourists as well. To make the animals attractive, the owners force them to perform unnatural acts like dancing or colour them.

Not just that, they are also subjected to harsh living conditions where they are denied basic facilities including food, water, veterinary facilities and others.

To address such problems, the draft ‘Prevention of Regulation of Livestock Markets Rules, 2016’ rules ban cruel and harmful practices like, “forcing animals to perform any unnatural acts such as dancing, putting any ornaments or decorative materials on animals, animal identification methods such as hot branding and cold branding, shearing and painting of horns and use of any chemicals or colours on body parts of animals."

“If the government can seriously implement these rules, it will help save indigenous cattle. These rules will help bring much-needed respite to tens of thousands of animals who are subjected to unthinkable cruelty in livestock markets," said Gauri Maulekhi, who is NGO Humane Society International’s government liaison.

To stop smuggling of animals from one state to another, it said the purchaser shall not sell the cattle to a person outside the state without the permission as per the state cattle protection or preservation laws.

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