After seeing the plight of horses used for hauling tourist carriages in Kolkata or reviewing materials regarding their condition, over 150 veterinarians sent an appeal to Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee, requesting that her government stop the use of horse-drawn carriages considering the animals’ poor health and deteriorated condition. PETA India has been appealing for the carriages to be replaced with motorised e-carriages and has offered to assist in the horses’ rehabilitation. In Mumbai, horse-drawn carriages have been replaced with sleek vintage-style, non-animal vehicles.
In the appeal, the veterinarians cite that Kolkata’s horses are forced to haul heavy loads of people on hard roads, conditions which lead to irreparable and irreversible leg and hoof problems resulting in lameness. The veterinarians refer to three in-depth studies by PETA India and the CAPE Foundation, which documented that more than 100 horses used for tourist rides in Kolkata are anaemic, malnourished, chronically starved, and denied routine foot care and veterinary services; that some have been found suffering from severe injuries, including bone fractures; and that many are forced to live amid their own waste on filthy, decrepit, and illegally occupied premises in the city .
The Honourable Bombay High Court, through its judgement dated 8 June 2015, ruled that using horse-drawn carriages in Mumbai for “joyrides” is illegal. It noted that plying horses on concrete and tar surfaces in the city causes various poor health conditions in the animals and further found the conditions in which the horses were maintained to be “pathetic”. The court also noted that the carriages were being used for entertainment and not public conveyance. In addition, the court observed that none of the stables for horses there had a licence under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888. Thereafter, on 3 April 2017, while dismissing a review petition filed by horse owners, the Bombay High Court firmly reiterated its decision.
And recently, the Honourable Supreme Court of India, vide its order dated 6 February 2023, dismissed an appeal against the prohibition of horse-drawn carriages imposed by the Bombay High Court. With this dismissal, the prohibition earlier imposed by the Bombay High Court stands reaffirmed.
PETA India has compiled a factsheet of numerous road accidents in Kolkata involving these horses, illustrating the dangers of using them to haul tourists. Such accidents cause injury or death of the animals and pose safety risks to the passengers in the carriages and commuters. Moreover, using injured and malnourished horses for carriage rides violates the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
These veterinarians care about animals and know what’s best for them, and they are saying the use of horses for hauling tourist carriages in Kolkata must end!