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Agriculture Minister Atul Bora

DOOM DOOMA: Assam Agriculture and Veterinary minister Atul Bora has said that Animal Welfare Board (AWB) as well as its district-level units will be reactivated from fiscal 2023-24.  

The state agriculture minister said this during a meeting at Janata Bhawan in Guwahati. 

According to reports, among all 35 districts of the state, only 13 have AWB units. It was constituted under the Animal Cruelty Prohibition Act of 1960.

“For the social and economic development of rural belts, the animal sector plays a special role,” Bora said.

Following a direction from CM Himanta Biswa Sarma, Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Department has decided to activate the state (AWB) and its district-level units from fiscal 2023-24.

Though some districts have AWB units, they are not active due to a lack of budgetary support and other reasons. The board also has its units at the district level to check the illegal transportation of animals, and cruelty against animals, among others.

The State government feels the necessity of activating the AWB due to the rise in cases of cattle smuggling and their seizure by the police.

Atul Bora reviewed the state of affairs of the State Animal Welfare Board and its district units at a meeting with top-level officials of the department. He asked the department to revive the AWB and district units.

The police seize cattle during illegal transportation by smugglers. Since the police have no provisions for keeping the cattle with them, they hand over the seized animals to gaushalas. Since gaushalas are like NGOs, there is every possibility of the seized cattle not getting adequate food and care. The cattle not getting adequate care is tantamount to cruelty against animals. Here comes the role of the Animal Welfare Board, which can have budgetary support for providing means to the gaushalas to take adequate care of the seized cattle.

The department has decided to reactivate the existing district-level animal welfare boards and reconstitute them in the districts where they no longer exist.

The current Budget (2022-23) does not have any provision for the Animal Welfare Board. The department will try to ensure budgetary support for such boards in the budget.

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