Shillong: The recent Assam Cattle Preservation Bill 2021, passed by the Assam Government has left its neighbour Meghalaya wondering how the state will manage the high consumption of beef in the state.

Principal Secretary, animal & husbandry, GHP Raju on Thursday said that the department has studied the Act and will consider writing to the Assam government that Section 7 of the Bill goes against the Government of India instructions.

The department also said that if needed, they would issue a notification authorising their own local traders.

“Our animal husbandry department will surely come up with a notification by next week. If a permit is required temporarily, we will issue the permit to our local legitimate traders,” stated Raju. The principal secretary said that they want to ensure that the state’s legitimate cattle traders are not inconvenienced.

“Another is those who tend to smuggle out the cattle bringing from outside should be identified and stopped. So, these two objectives by next week, I’m very sure we will come up with a notification because we have studied the existing norms of the Government of India, norms given by the government of Assam and our existing norms,” said Raju.

Talking about Section 7, which is a point of contention, Raju said Section 7 mandates that they (Assam) would permit trucks to transport cattle provided there is a transit pass issued by the competent authority in Meghalaya.

The Bill claims to prevent the smuggling of cattle. So any vehicle passing through Assam has to have a valid pass, said Raju. “As of now, there are two passes mandated by the Government of India. Suppose you are bringing cattle from Bihar. Then, the local authority must certify that the cattle are fit for travel, healthy, not having any disease, and vaccinated. That is the Government of India regulation, and the Bihar authority has to give that certificate,” mentioned Raju.

Another certificate mandated by the GOI is that if a truck is used for transportation, the transporter must provide that the cattle are vaccinated and fit to travel.

The Meghalaya animal and husbandry department, Raju said, is not sure if the Assam government has taken these two directions of the Government of India into account.

When asked about the fears among traders or being harassed, Raju urged the traders or those involved to get in touch with him. He requested all legitimate cattle traders to take his number and call him if there is any harassment by any authority in Assam while transiting.

“I’m available around the clock…Our local traders shall not be harassed by any authority in Assam on some pretext or the other,” stated Raju.

He added that if any such cases arise, he would take up the matter with the Principal Secretary, Animal Husbandry Department, Government of Assam.

He added that he is in touch with GP Singh in Assam, who is spearheading the implementation of this Act.

‘Working with BSF to prevent international smuggling’

Raju said the department would meet with the BSF authorities of this area to ensure no smuggling in the region. According to the department, meat prices rose not due to non-availability but because of smuggling.

Smugglers have been mentioning their destination as Meghalaya but in most cases, the cattle brought are smuggled to Bangladesh.

Since the BSF has a big role in preventing smuggling, Raju said he aims to include all the districts having an international border. This includes East Jaintia Hills, West Jaintia Hills, East Khasi Hills, South West Khasi Hills, South Garo Hills. The Superintendent of Police (SP) of all these districts would assist the BSF.

The police can assist the BSF in verifying whether cattle traders are legitimate and seize them if they are not. Raju informed that he would hold a series of meetings with them at his level to impress upon how important it is for the state to stabilise the price of the meat to control and contain the smuggling at the international border.

Also read | Transporters urge Meghalaya CM to remove ‘illegal’ weighbridges

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