PUNE In a major reprieve granted to the government of Maharashtra, the Supreme Court on Thursday lifted the ban on oxcart racing in the state, four years after his stay. Races must be conducted in accordance with the rules and amendments thereto to the Animal Cruelty Prevention Act in accordance with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as per order.
With the Supreme Court now giving the green light, several parts of the state, particularly Pune and the western region of Maharashtra, where the decades-old tradition prevails, will once again experience the thrill of the sport, which those associated with the races, will also help stimulate the rural economy.
In many areas of western Maharashtra, especially in the Pune district, oxcart racing is considered a traditional sport where the locals invest heavily. Those who participate in the race spend a lot of money on oxen while the prize also runs into thousands of rupees. In many villages, the winners of the race have a social stature equivalent to that of the members of the gram panchayat.
Following the SC verdict, the happy bullock cart owners of Pune district decorated their oxen and burst firecrackers in Khed, Rajgurunagar, Bhosari and other places.
Akhil Bharatiya Bailgada Sharyat Sanghatna representing Ramkrishna Takalkar, said that the Supreme Court gave the green light to organize the races by adhering to the rules and regulations adopted by the state government in 2017. “Since the Supreme Court gave the conditional authorization, we call on all ox cart owners to organize races in accordance with the rules and regulations. Lakhs of bullock cart owners across the state are happy today. There were accusations against the owners that they mistreated animals, but all of these accusations were false. The point is, all owners treat oxen like their own child. Today, with this decision, the farmers breathed a sigh of relief, ”said Takalkar.
Ramnath Waringe, one of the oxcart owners in Maval region, Pune district, said all the oxcart owners in the district were happy with the decision. “Ox cart owners and farmers have never seen racing as a way of entertainment. For them, these races were a means of boosting the rural economy. Several means of subsistence depended on these races. This was the sale and purchase of the breed required for racing.
Waringe owns six oxen (required for races) worth about ??40 lakh and won several races when the sport was licensed in the state. “When I say these breeds bring prosperity to the farming community, it means the farmers buy the young bull calf from ??25,000 to ??30,000, breed the animal very carefully, train it and prepare it for races. If the beef runs fast then it can be sold anywhere ??4 lakh to ??5 lakh or even a higher price, ”he said.
(With contributions from the agency)