The last session of the Gujarat Assembly before a new House is elected by this year-end begins today. The state Assembly elections are due in December this year.
The House will discuss the state government’s proposal to withdraw a bill which was passed in April for tackling the stray cattle menace in cities. On March 31, the Gujarat government introduced the Gujarat Cattle Control (Keeping and Moving) in Urban Areas Bill, 2022, to curb the problem of stray cattle in urban areas and passed it hours later despite objections from the Opposition.
Following protests by the Maldhari community (cattle-rearers) against the bill, Gujarat BJP chief CR Paatil in April said he had requested Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel to reconsider it. Gujarat government spokesperson Jitu Vaghani had also later announced that CM Patel decided not to implement the bill.
According to the new bill, cattle owners would need a licence to keep cattle. The registration and tagging of animals were also made mandatory in municipal areas. According to the pastoral community leaders, there were enough provisions in The Gujarat Provincial Municipal Corporation Act 1948 and The Gujarat Municipalities Act, 1963 to control any animal nuisance in urban areas.
Hundreds of cattle-rearers held a ‘mahapanchayat’ near Gujarat capital Gandhinagar on September 18 to demand to scrap the bill. During the mega gathering on Sunday, the community also pressed for other demands like giving farmer status to Maldharis, providing grazing land for cattle, 27 percent reservation under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category in panchayats and cooperative bodies, and conducting a caste census in Gujarat.Milk distribution could be disrupted from September 21 onwards as Maldhari (herdsmen) organisations in Gujarat have decided to stop the supply till their demands, primarily the withdrawal of the stray cattle control law, are met.
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