KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court on Monday set up a four-member committee to examine and urgently submit a report on unlicensed and unfit horses used to haul tourist carriages in Kolkata. The report has to be submitted before the next hearing scheduled on September 19.
The order on Monday by the division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bhardwaj follows the state government’s failure to submit a policy on the rehabilitation of anaemic, malnourished, lame, visually impaired, and/or chronically starved horses. Though the state advocate general had on April 5, 2022, told the court that guidelines were ready and would be placed before the court, it was not done, leading to the order of a court-appointed committee.
The four-member committee will comprise a represe-ntative each from the state animal resources development department, Animal Welfare Board of India, PETA India and CAPE Foundation, and horse owners.
A health camp for the horses is scheduled at the Maidan on Tuesday. Horse-carriage owners had not attended the two previous health camps organised by the state.
Animal rights organisations PETA India and Cape Foundation had in December 2021 filed a public interest litigation on the pathetic state of horses used for rides at the Maidan. PETA and Cape Foundation’s investigation into horses used for rides in Kolkata revealed that they are in a state of crisis. In a plea to the state CM, the organisations had urged that horse-drawn carriages be replaced by electric carriages and the horses be rehabilitated. Its report detailed the miserable conditions of more than 100 horses used for tourists and carriage rides in Kolkata.
The rights activists have contended that the rides are hazardous to horses and members of the public, both of whom have been gravely injured in accidents. Horses with serious, usually irrepar-able, injuries such as broken bones are often abandoned and left to starve, leading to slow, painful deaths.