Unfortunately , the draft rules amongst others, merely increases the space given to egg laying hens from 450sq.cm to a 550sq.cms, which adopted , will still allow egg laying hens to be confined in cages that are so cramped that the hens are unable to perform many important natural behaviours, including walking, perching, dust bathing, nesting, or even fully stretching their wings. They will continue suffer psychological stress as well as numerous physical harms, including bone weakness and breakage, feather loss, and diseases.
The proposed rules do not address any animal welfare concerns even though these proposed rules are required to be preventing animal cruelty, being notified in exercise of the power to make Rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the primary animal welfare legislation in India.
According to the notification, the proposed Rules are only applicable to battery cage facilities, which are incorrectly defined as ‘colony cage enclosure’- which in fact are enriched enclosures, having resources such as perches and nest boxes to allow for exhibition of natural behaviour of the hens. However, there is no provision that provides for these resources, therefore, essentially, the ‘enclosures’ are the same battery cages. In utter disregard for the law in force, the required space allowance is 550 sq cm in the notification; with a minimum of 6-8 birds in one cage. This means, instead of crowding each cage with 10 birds, each cage will be crowded with 8 birds. Science has shown that preventing these birds from expressing their natural behaviour affects their physical and mental health. In fact, studies have established that the instance of salmonella is higher in caged facilities than in cage-free facilities.
N.G. Jayasimha, managing director of HSI India said; “Whereas the Rules provide for language indicating biosecurity, there are no provisions towards enforceability. The renewal of registration of an egg production facility to be every 5 years, without any provision for an inspection in that duration. The rules are extremely impractical and unenforceable. The issues pertaining to biosecurity are dependent on the management practices. With battery cages having increased instance of disease mere introduction of restriction on use of antimicrobials, without checks and balance, is of no utility.”
Gauri Maulekhi, Trustee, People for Animals; “The Rules are a mere eye-wash and must be objected to for their failure to adhere to the basic principles of law, and for failure to further the object of the parent Act (i.e., PCA Act), the draft rule , by law and sprit is against the orders of the Delhi High Court”
HSI India and PFA for the past decade have been advocating a phase out of battery cages in India. In 2017 the Law Commission of India, had recommended a phase out of battery cages in the country. Ends