New Delhi: The latest rules by the environment ministry banning sale of cattle for slaughter in cattle markets, which has sparked a nationwide furore, are hinged on a report that claims to have found evidence of large numbers of cattle illegally trafficked into India's neighbouring countries.
- Centre banned sale of cattle for slaughter in markets
- Law based on concerns of illegal cattle trafficking
- Official data shows less than 1% cattle at risk of illegal trafficking
Specifically, the ban is finds its origins in the findings of a Supreme Court mandated committee set up to suggest ways of preventing the trafficking of buffaloes into Nepal and cattle into Bangladesh. The government also says they relied on a report of a Parliamentary Standing Committee of Home Affairs, which looked into illegal cross-border cattle trafficking.
NDTV analysed the data presented to these committees by border security agencies. Based just on their findings, less than 1 per cent of India's cattle and buffalo population is under threat of being illegally trafficked or slaughtered.
The Border Security force said that between 2012 and 2016, it seized an average of 1.5 lakh cattle per year being trafficked into Bangladesh.
That works out to 0.07% of India's total cattle population of 19 crore, as per the last livestock census of 2012.
A report by the Sashastra Seema Bal, another border agency, submitted to the Supreme Court in 2015, gives estimates of buffaloes slaughtered at a temple festival in Nepal.
This report says that in 2009, 35,000 buffaloes were sacrificed, which works out to 0.03% of India's buffalo population.
On available evidence, these numbers do not seem to merit a nationwide ban on sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets.
Cattle trafficking, however, is not just limited to cross-border movement.
NDTV made repeated attempts, without luck, to seek more extensive data from different government departments on the scale of illegal cattle trafficking and slaughter within India.
An official of the Animal Welfare Board, who refused to be named, told NDTV that there is no comprehensive national data on cattle trafficking, because, in his words, "it is an illegal activity".
"How can we have data on an illegal activity?" he said.