Fulfilling his promise to allow local community’s cultural practices, the union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has issued a notification allowing the Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu.
The notification issued Thursday and signed by MoEF’s Special secretary Hem Pande also allows bullock cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat.
“… Bulls may be continue to be exhibited or trained as a performing animal, at events such as Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and bullock cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat in the manner by the customs of any community or practiced traditionally under the customs or as a part of culture, in any part of the country,” said the MoEF notification.
The ministry, however, stipulated several conditions for allowing.
“Such event shall take place in any district where it is being traditionally held annually, at such place explicitly permitted by the district collector or the district magistrate,” it held.
It also said that, “bullock cart race shall be organised on a proper track, which shall not exceed two kilometers” and in case of, “Jallikattu, the moment the bull leaves the enclosure, it shall be tamed within a radial distance of 15 metre”.
The ministry also said that organizers must ensure that the bulls are put to proper testing by the authorities of the animal husbandry and veterinary department to ensure that they are in good physical condition to participate in the event and performance enhancement drugs are not administered to the bulls in any form.
It noted that authorities must ensure that the animals are not subjected to any cruelty. It said that the events should be monitored by district society for prevention of cruelty to animals and State Animal Welfare Board or the district authorities ensuring that no unnecessary pain or suffering is inflicted or caused, in any manner to the animals.
In 2014, Supreme Court had banned bull taming sport Jallikattu, a cultural practice in Tamil Nadu which happens during Pongal harvest festival celebrated in January and bullock cart racing in states like Maharashtra.
However, environment minister Prakash Javadekar had been facing huge pressure from states like Tamil Nadu and Maharasthra to allow them as part of their cultural practices.
A committee headed by former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian, which was formed by MoEF for green laws, in its report had batted for allowing cultural practices like Jallikattu.
It had said that India has a varied and glorious cultural tradition; while there are many national festivals, there are also localised festivals which are of great local importance in different States.
“Nature and animal worship has been part of the national culture. A dispensation in the various Schedules should be permitted to take into account such local practices, and reflect them in their approved schedules, through gazette notification subject to no harm or injury to animals,” the TSR committee observed.
Meanwhile, the decision is not going to go down well with environmentalists and wildlife activists. There is already an online petition seeking to stop Jallikattu.