The West Bengal government on Tuesday sought more time from the Calcutta High Court to respond to a Public Interest Litigation filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and CAPE Foundation seeking an end to the use of horses for carriage rides near Victoria Memorial.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava then directed the state government to place on record a policy to address the miserable conditions of horses used to haul tourist carriages near Victoria Memorial before the next hearing on February 28.
The petition filed by PETA India follows a recent study revealing that more than 100 horses used to pull tourist carriages in the city are anaemic, malnourished, and chronically starved, some have 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, including an encroachment area under a flyover.
PETA India recently submitted a detailed proposal to the Joint Commissioner of Police, Traffic, offering to take responsibility for the rehabilitation of unfit, unlicensed, and abandoned horses seized by Kolkata police or other law-enforcement authorities, with the support of local NGOs and animal sanctuaries.
A factsheet in PETA India’s report lists about 10 road accidents in Kolkata involving horses, highlighting the dangers of using them to haul tourists. The petition also points out that horse-drawn carriages in Kolkata apparently violate various provisions of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation Act, 1980, and the Calcutta Hackney-Carriage Act, 1919.
The state government said that is very serious on this sensitive issue and will not tolerate any kind of torture on the harmless creatures. The government will consider everything in all seriousness, it said.