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Cattle Notification Not Targeted at Food Habits, Says Harsh Vardhan

The central government will “on an urgent basis” amend the language of the notification which places curbs on the sale of cattle, Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan tells CNN-News18’s deputy political editor Marya Shakil.

Marya Shakil | CNN-News18maryashakil

Updated:June 13, 2017, 3:24 PM IST
Cattle Notification Not Targeted at Food Habits, Says Harsh Vardhan
File photo of Minister Harshvardhan. (CNN-News18 TV grab)

New Delhi: The central government will “on an urgent basis” amend the language of the notification which places curbs on the sale of cattle, Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan tells CNN-News18’s deputy political editor Marya Shakil. He also rejects opposition allegations that the notification, which bans the sale of cattle for slaughter in open markets, is fascist.

Edited excerpts:

The government has said that the cattle ban notification is not the final word. You've already received petitions from various groups. What exactly is happening? What is the status right now?

The rules which were notified for the Act prevent what you call cruelty to animals. You see, that law was already there. And on the directions of the Supreme Court, some rules were framed under that Act. When these rules were notified for the first time — that was a draft notification — they were put in public domain for one month. Lot of good suggestions came. They were all incorporated. Then the final notification came and there was some misunderstanding, misinterpretation and misconceptions about the various clauses.

We made it amply clear on a number of occasions in writing as well and I also spoke to the media on a couple of occasions that the notified rules have not even an iota of intention from the government's side to either influence anybody's food habits in any way. Nor do we want to, directly or indirectly, affect adversely the slaughtering business. This we have said categorically time and again. It has been put in the public domain earlier also, but some communication gap is still there as far as the perception about the rules is concerned. We have now said that if you still have some suggestions, if you still have some misgivings about it, give us your suggestions.

The industry has given us some suggestions and people in the leather business are giving us some suggestions. We are examining them most objectively and we'll make sure that if there is a need, we'll look at them again.

You say this notification doesn't impact food habits of individuals and it also, you say, will not impact the slaughter business. How are you going about it? Are you open to the idea of perhaps revisiting the term ‘cattle’ in the notification?

I am not talking about one particular aspect. We are revisiting almost everything in the light of the representations that we have got. Because the government doesn't have bad intention. Unfortunately, because of political reasons, people are giving it a different meaning, which is totally uncalled for. There is no need for all that and they are continuously doing it inspite of repeated clarifications from the government side that we don't have any intention to influence your business or food habits.

The Meghalaya Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution rejecting the Centre’s notification. Opposition is coming from the northeastern states, it is coming from the southern states as well.

We have said that we will welcome any suggestion that comes from any state government. But if the state governments, despite our repeated clarification, continue to sort of be in a political mood, what can we do about it? I can assure on record on behalf of my government that we will not allow the interest of even a single person in this country to be hurt.

There are allegations that the government is fascist. That livestock is a state subject and you are trying to encroach on that. How will you defend the government?

Terms like ‘fascist’… as a political party, we are used to hearing all this. It’s not the first time that people talk about us as fascists. They've been calling us fascist for years and decades, but we know that we are the only party in this country which works with a sense of dedication, sincerity and honesty in terms of our commitment to the society and the nation. We never allow that spirit, or what you can call the "rashtra dharam" or the "samaj dharm" or the maanav dharam", to be compromised even a bit.

What about the slaughter business and the meat processing units? Is the government trying to look at it? Re-look at it or amend the notification?

When I say that there is not going to be any effect on this business, when the concerned minister is saying that time and again on record, what more is needed? And if there is a need to correct something in terms of language, we'll correct it.

Are you looking at some kind of timeline?

We are examining it on an urgent basis. It’s not an issue which we have kept on the backburner. Every day we get some representation or the other and our department is examining them very sincerely. Moreover, you will rightly recall that this issue started because of the direction of the Supreme Court. These rules were framed within a set time-frame. Now, the issue has again gone back to the Supreme Court. People have approached the Supreme Court. There is a hearing which is due in the top court on June 15. In the light of all this, I think a solution has to come from the government side since our intention is clear.

What about the gaurakshaks? They have almost assumed the role to implement the notification.

I think these things are unnecessarily hyped and blown out of proportion. And they actually don't match the reality to the ground.

Cow vigilantes are very active…

See, to have faith in cow is something else…. I think it actually doesn't happen. The media creates that hype.

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| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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