The Central government on Thursday banned the sale of cows and buffaloes for slaughter at animal markets across India.

Now, bulls, cows, bullocks, buffaloes, steers, heifers, calves and camels can be sold only to agriculturists.

"No one can bring cattle to an animal market unless he or she has furnished a written declaration that the cattle will not be sold for the purpose of slaughter," a gazette notification, titled Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017, by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, stated.

"Further, upon sale of cattle, the animal market committee will take an undertaking that the animals are for agricultural purposes and not for slaughter," the notification added.

The records should be preserved for six months. The new rule also says cattle buyers cannot sell the animals outside the state without permission.

The new rules do not amount to a wide ban on cattle slaughter or its trade. But they will squeeze supplies to India’s Rs. 1-lakh crore meat industry that sources about 90 per cent of its requirement from animal markets.

To be implemented in the next three months, the move introduces lots of paperwork for cow traders who are mostly poor and illiterate.

After buying a cow, a trader must make five copies of proof of sale and submit them at the local revenue office, the local veterinary doctor in the district of the purchaser, animal market committee, apart from one each for seller and buyer.

(With inputs from agencies)