GUWAHATI: Following a direction from Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Department has decided to activate the state Animal Welfare Board (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 Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Department constituted the AWB under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act of 1960. The board also has its units at the district level to see the illegal transportation of animals, cruelty against animals etc.
The State government feels the necessity of activating the AWB with the increasing cases of cattle smuggling and their seizure by the police.
Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Minister 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 recently. He asked the department to revive the AWB and district units.
The police seize cattle during their illegal transportation by smugglers. Since the police have no provisions for keeping the cattle with them, they hand over the animals to Gaushalas. Since Gausalas are like NGOs, there is every possibility of the seized cattle not getting adequate food and care. The seized cattle not getting 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 Gausalas to take adequate care of the seized cattle.
According to sources, 13 districts still have animal welfare boards that are not that active. 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 next Budget.
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