The cattle population in the country will soon have its own unique identity, like its human counterparts, thanks to Narendra Modi government's decision to stop their smuggling and illegal slaughter.
All cows, their calves, oxen and bulls in the country will be tagged with a tamper-proof Unique Identification Number (UIN) to stop their smuggling, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday.
Identification details will include age, breed, sex, lactation, height, body colour, horn type, tail switch and any special marks recorded.
The decision was taken when the NDA government took office in 2014, solicitor general Ranjit Kumar told a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud.
"Each animal will be tagged with a UIN with proper records of identification details - age, breed, sex, lactation, height, body colour, horn type, tail switch and special marks," Kumar told the court.
"The ministry of agriculture has devised a method of tamper-proof identification of cattle using polyurethane tags with a UIN sequence. It may be made mandatory for cows and their progeny throughout India," Kumar said.
A state-level data bank may be uploaded on the UIN website to be linked with the national online database.
"Already mass tagging of cattle for insurance purpose is being done by livestock development boards and animal husbandry departments in states. A state-level data bank may be uploaded on website to be linked with the national online database. Such cattle may be in a dairy, kanji house (shelter home) or dry dairy and a registration card has to be maintained by the owner of the cattle, which may be transferred to the next owner, in case legitimate sale / transfer takes place," according to the government.
These recommendations by a high-level-inter-ministerial committee has been accepted by the competent authority, the centre told the SC, which said it would pass an order on Tuesday.
The committee had said that "barren cows or bulls or low-yielding animals are sold to organised smugglers or are abandoned on the roads from where they are captured and smuggled to international borders. Such sales and abandonment of cattle is rampant and without any onus or responsibility on cattle owners".
"In order to prevent smuggling of non-milking / retired cattle, measures may be taken to create sustainable housing models, dry dairies, in every block, which could be self-sustaining by linking its operations to production of manure and bio-gas, which may be sold at a minimum support price to the government. This will reduce use of chemical fertilisers in agriculture," it said.
In an affidavit filed in a public interest litigation by NGO "Akhil Bharat Krishi Goseva Sangh", the centre gave details of the causes behind large-scale cattle smuggling to Bangladesh. It said in West Bengal alone, 1,28,440 cattle were impounded by BSF, accounting for 76 per cent of seized cattle in 2016. Assam with 33,619 seized cattle figured second in the list.