When PETA became aware that bullocks used for transporting sugarcane for Shri Chaatrapati Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana (SCSSK) Ltd were struggling to bear excessive loads, we went to the police. After they failed to take action, we went to court.
PETA submitted evidence to prove that SCSSK was violating the Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965, by exceeding the allowable weight of 2,800 kilograms per bullock cart. PETA obtained receipts of payments made to bullock-cart owners by the sugarcane factory that clearly indicate that the loads were far in excess of the legal limit. As a result, the Baramati Session Court has issued a notice against the sugarcane company. The board of directors of SCSSK appealed the issuance to the Baramati Session Court, which will rule on the matter in July.
Bullock-cart owners in Maharashtra are reportedly encouraged to overload bullocks through incentives offered by sugar factories. The animals are often forced to pull loads twice the size of what a normal, healthy bullock could pull. The additional weight causes bullocks to suffer from swollen knees, necks and shoulders, and the strain impairs their immune systems and shortens their lives.
Now that the court has issued a notice, our Director of Veterinary Affairs, Dr Manilal Vayillate, is positive about the outcome. He says, “We hope that this court ruling will put the sugarcane factories on notice that their days of flouting the law and tormenting working animals are numbered.”