Maharashtra becomes a beef-free state, as the President, Pranab Mukherjee bans beef possession or sale in the state. In 1995, The Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill, was passed during the BJP-Shiv Sena rule and took 19 long years for the President's approval. According to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act of 1976, the butchering of cows was strictly prohibited in the state earlier. However, the slaughtering of bullocks and bulls was permitted based on a fit-for-slaughter certificate.
The new Act will ban the slaughtering of bullocks, cows and bulls irrespective of the fitness certificate. The Act, will however permit the butchering of water buffaloes, which gives low quality meat that sums up to about 25% of the total beef market in Maharashtra. According to local beef traders, this new Act will increase the cost of beef and other meat and also take away thousands of jobs.
"We had promised in our manifest to bring this Bill and we have managed to do it," said Kirit Somaiya, the BJP MP from Mumbai. According to him, the new rule is a big leap which will have economic and cultural implications. He also said that the ruling governments failed to do the needful all these years after the Bill was passed to the President back in 1995.
According to a study, about 90,000 kg of mutton is consumed every day in Mumbai. However, the beef is considered to be the poor man's meat which costs one third the price of mutton. A recent government report indicates that the shortage of fodder in the state has increased by 61%. In February, beef traders and consumers across the state protested against this new Act for more than a week.
"Who will care for the old and infirm #Animals that were earlier sold for meat?" says Arif Chowdhury, a member of the All India Jamiatul Quersh, an organization of beef traders. He also said that the farmers will be affected the most by the beef ban. "By banning the slaughter of old and infirm animals, the government is doing grave injustice to the healthy animals and farmers of Maharashtra," said Rajendra Dhende, a Sangli beef trader.
The Maharashtra Governor was informed of the decision after the Bill was signed by the President and sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Today, anyone found possessing or selling beef will be fined Rs. 10,000 and put behind bars for five years.