This last-minute decision came after the Jain community protested against livestock export to the Middle-East
Around 10,000 sheep and goat are stranded at Gujarat’s Tuna Port after the Directorate General of Shipping stopped them from being exported to United Arab Emirates after granting permission earlier.
On August 3, the same office had, in consultation with Marine Mercantile Department, allowed Mechanised Sailing Vessels to operate from Tuna Port in August. The consignment had to leave the port on August 6.
Before this development, on August 6, Remya Mohan, district magistrate of Kutch, had stopped the consignment citing violation of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Mohan had immediately appointed a committee of three officers including sub-divisional magistrate of Anjar taluka, deputy superintendent of police and deputy director of animal husbandry to look into this violation and submit the report in a day.
But before the report could arrive, DG Shipping stopped the vessel on August 8 without citing any reason. The Marine Mercantile Department, which was consulted with before the August 3 permit was granted, issued a letter on August 7 cancelling the port clearance citing foul season. Capt RK Muduli, principal officer, Mercantile Marine Department of Kandla, in his letter, said according to the Indian Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, and Sailing Vessels Rule, 1997, vessels must not sail in the foul season of June 1-August 31.
Traders get short end of the stick
Traders got the short end of the stick as they have limited resources to feed these animals, who are now in demand overseas owing to the upcoming Bakrid. “This time, since Bakrid will fall on August 22, we decided to export livestock to the Gulf,” said Adam Bhaya, secretary of Salaya Vessels Owners Association, whose vessel was one of those stopped at the port. “In the end, our business and animals are the ones affected,” he added.
As many as 60 countries import goat meat from India and 80 per cent of the meat export goes to West Asia. Although India currently exports 6.4 per cent of the goat and sheep meat it produces, export is where demand is set to explode. While meat export has increased around eight times in the past two years, production has seen marginal rise.
Qassim Shaheen Cattle and Fodder Trading Est, a Dubai-based company that had already spent more than Rs 10 lakh on the export, has written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation urging them to resolve the matter. “This kind of undue interruption in export of livestock will tarnish the name of Indian exporters and such an act is against the Centre’s policy of boosting exports,” said Adil Noor, secretary of Livestock Export Association Gujarat (LEAG).
More than 40,000 families’ livelihood is associated with this business including labourers, crew members of country crafts, exporters, agents, traders, etc. According to LEAG, Gulf countries have already banned import of livestock from many countries. “Our animals were allowed because we take care of them well and follow the law of both lands,” added Noor. The LEAG has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Gujarat CM saying they are being harassed for no reason.
Jain protest could be the reason
The export cancellation order came after the Jain community leaders protested against exporting goats calling it “violence against animals”. “The collector has told us that we are free to export from outside Gujarat or by air. Transporting via air is not economically viable and also animals die because of pressure,” said Bhaya.
The livestock export, which has been happening for the past 40 years, had never faced any hindrance before this. Rajendra Shah of State Animal Welfare Board, had written to the PM in July demanding ban on livestock export to the Middle-East. He had also accused traders of treating livestock cruelly and breaking the law.
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