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It is definitely most reassuring and so also most refreshing to learn that the Delhi High Court while rising up to the mark very rightly in a most learned, laudable, landmark, logical and latest oral judgment titled Sunayana Sibal & Ors vs Government of NCT of Delhi & Ors in W.P.(C) 13236/2022 & CM APPL. 56064/2023 CM APPL.60825/2023 and cited in Neutral Citation No.: 2024:DHC:3069-DB that was pronounced as recently as on May 8, 2024 has most commendably issued a slew of landmark directions for maintaining proper hygiene in dairies in the national capital which is so imperative to ensure medical care of cattle kept therein and for use of spurious oxytocin. We need to note here that the Delhi High Court was dealing with a plea which had alleged that dairy colonies in Delhi have been violating various laws which are to be enforced by the government authorities. What also must be noted is that a Division Bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Hon’ble Mr Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora was prima facie not at all persuaded by the specious argument of the Delhi Government’s Chief Secretary that the cattle in the dairies adjoining sanitary landfill sites in Delhi can be prevented from eating hazardous waste until 2025-26.

Truth be told, the petition had been filed by Sunayana Sibal, Asher Jessudoss and Akshita Kukreja. Earlier we had seen that the court had clearly asked the officials which also includes the Delhi Government’s Chief Secretary to explore the possibility of availability of land where Ghazipur and Bhalsawa dairies could be rehabilitated and relocated. It may be recalled that in the last hearing, the Court had observed that the dairies in the national capital should be relocated to areas where there is proper sewage, drainage, biogas plant, ample open space for the cattle to move around and enough grazing area.

Coming straight to the most significant point, the Division Bench mandates in para 24 propounding that, "Consequently, we are of the prima facie opinion that the suggestion of the Chief Secretary that the dairies at Ghazipur and Bhalaswa can continue to operate near the landfill sites and that they will not pose any threat to the public health is incorrect. It seems that the Respondents are ‘turning a blind eye’ to the irreparable harm, which the milk produced in these dairies could cause to the health of the residents of GNCTD. This Court is prima facie not persuaded by the submission of the Chief Secretary that the cattle in the dairies adjoining sanitary landfill sites can be prevented from eating hazardous waste at the landfill sites until 2025-26. We, therefore, issue the following general directions:

i) The Chief Secretary to seriously consider the suggestion made by the Petitioners with respect to the re-location of Bhalaswa and Ghazipur dairies to Ghogha dairy especially since the said suggestion is backed by data given in the Note.

ii) Existing dairies be made compliant in terms of the four licensing/registration requirements, namely, License under the MCD Act, License from Animal Husbandry, GNCTD under Cattle Premises Registration Rule, License/NOC from DPCC under Water and Pollution Act and License from Food Safety Authority under Food safety.

iii) Veterinary Hospitals be made functional forthwith near all designated dairies.

iv) Bio-gas plants be installed near all the nine authorised dairies in Delhi for creation of dry manure and biogas fuel/Compressed Biogas (CBG) production at the earliest, preferably prior to onset of monsoon.

v) FSSAI/Department of Food Safety, GNCTD to ramp up testing and to conduct random sample checking of milk for presence of chemicals in dairy units in all the nine designated dairies as also of the milk products such as sweets from the areas where milk is supplied and to take appropriate action as per law in case of any violation.

vi) A detailed affidavit be filed by the Commissioner of Police indicating the efforts made to track the sources of spurious oxytocin/hormones and its production, packaging and distribution in pursuance to the complaints registered with the Police by the Petitioners/Local Commissioner; as well as the order dated 01st May, 2024 passed by this Court.

In addition, the Division Bench directs in para 25 that, "We also issue the following specific directions with regard to Ghogha Dairy:

a) MCD and other governmental organizations to remove all unauthorized constructions, commercial establishments, residential houses and industrial units in dairy plots at Ghogha Dairy Colony.

b) MCD to ensure that cattle housed at the dairy plots do not exceed the prescribed numbers, i.e., 5 cattle for 60 sq meters plots and 8 cattle for 96 sq meters plots.

c) The suggestions given by the Petitioners may also be taken into consideration for making Ghogha dairy an attractive alternative site so that the dairy owners in congested dairies like Ghazipur and Bhalaswa voluntarily opt for shifting."

It is worth noting that the Division Bench notes in para 26 that, "On the last date of hearing, this Court had suggested that efforts should be made to make one of the dairies compliant with all the laws so that it becomes a role model that could be replicated in other parts of the city."

Most remarkably, the Division Bench postulates in para 27 that, "Keeping in view the aforesaid, the Petitioners have filed a Proposed Action Plan for making Madanpur Khadar Dairy Colony compliant with all the existing laws. Considering the issues highlighted by the Court Commissioner in her two reports, this Court, as a pilot project, issues the following directions with regard to Madanpur Khadar Dairy Colony for immediate compliance:-

A. Mapping and identification:

a) Since, the number of cattle on each plot in the colony is not known, it is essential that mapping and identification is done to ascertain:

i) The total number of plots that have been allotted for dairy purposes in this colony alongside the number of cattle being housed in these plots.

ii) The number of plots allotted for dairy but are being used for non-dairy purposes, including running commercial establishments and residences.

iii) The number of dairies being run by owners and those that have been leased out to others.

iv) The number and classification of cattle into cows, buffaloes and calves.

v) The number of plots possessing requisite licenses under different laws.

b) The dairy owners are directed to display the ownership of dairy plot prominently at a conspicuous place along with the number of cattle housed on that plot.

c) Show cause notices be issued to the owners for the misuse of these plots for non-dairy purposes and thereafter appropriate action for cancellation of allotment be taken.

d) The work of mapping and identification shall be carried out through Para Legal Volunteers of the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (‘DSLSA’). The concerned land-owning agency i.e., DUSIB shall depute sufficient number of officials to coordinate and assist in the process of mapping and identification. This process shall be completed within a period of six weeks from the date of order. It is pertinent to mention that CEO, DUSIB assures this Court that since the Madanpur Khadar Dairy Colony is located on the land under the management of DUSIB it shall ensure the due compliance of directions issued by this Court.

B. Tagging of cattle:

a) Dairy owners be directed to get tagging of cattle done using tag numbers provided under the INAPH (Information Network For Animal Productivity and Health) Scheme of Central Government under the supervision of officials of respondent No.3 Animal Husbandry Department, GNCTD (AHD) and any cattle which is not so tagged within a period of six weeks from today be seized and sent to earmarked gaushalas.

b) Respondent No.3 AHD to set up camps in each of the dairy colonies for the said purpose, if required, and necessary assistance be taken from DSLSA for the said purpose.

C. Use of spurious Oxytocin/ hormones:

a) AHD with assistance of DSLSA to conduct awareness camps in the colony regarding prohibition on use of Oxytocin/hormones and ill-effects of the same on the animals and humans, including infants who consume such milk directly or indirectly.

b) The dairy owners be directed to display prominently provisions of Section 12 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 in their premises as required by Rule 9 of the Cattle Premises Rules, 1978.

D. Medical care of cattle:

a) The dairy owners be directed to ensure that the cattle are kept in habitable conditions and any disease or injury to any animal is reported immediately to the Veterinary Officer of the Government Veterinary Hospital of the dairy.

b) Delhi Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (‘Delhi SPCA’) under respondent No.3/AHD carry out regular inspections to check the condition of cattle in the colony and to report immediately any disease or injury to any animal to the Veterinary Officer of the Government Veterinary Hospital. Delhi SPCA to ensure that the cattle are not tied too tightly to restrict their movements.

c) The veterinary doctor or the para-vets be instructed to immediately attend to any such reports, including visiting the premises where the cattle is kept.

E. Cleanliness/ Hygiene:

a) Dairy owners be directed to provide sufficient number of exhaust fans/ ceiling fans in the dairy plots to ensure adequate ventilation. Respondent No.3/AHD to conduct regular inspections to verify compliance of the same.

b) As regards bovine waste and feed residue, till such time as bio-compost plants etc. are set up, DPCC in collaboration with MCD to come up with short term measures for disposal of the same, including, if necessary, directing the dairy owners to collect the cow dung, instead of washing it away in the drains and deposit the same at earmarked spots from which MCD can get the same collected and send it for treatment.

c) Delhi SPCA to ensure that the food provided to the cattle is kept in clean and hygienic condition and the cattle be provided clean drinking water."

Be it noted, the Division Bench notes in para 28 that, "Each of the Respondents responsible for carrying out the above measures shall depute sufficient number of officials for the said purpose and also extend full cooperation to DSLSA. The Delhi Police is directed to render full cooperation so that there are no law and order issues. Respondents are directed to file their Action Taken Report within eight (8) weeks from the date of order. Since, presently there is no Secretary appointed in DSLSA, the Registrar Rules is directed to officiate on behalf of DSLSA to implement the direction issued in this order."

To be sure, the Division Bench directs in para 29 that, "The Chief Secretary is directed to file a detailed affidavit indicating the road map for the future of the nine dairy colonies. Let the said affidavit be filed on or before 24th May, 2024. He is directed to give a hearing to the Petitioners before filing this affidavit."

For clarity, the Division Bench clarifies in para 30 that, "The issue of the illegal dairy colonies operating in Delhi from non-confirming areas has not been touched upon during the hearing and is an issue left for another date."

Finally, the Division Bench then concludes by directing in para 31 that, "List the matter on 27th May, 2024 at 02:30 pm. The direction for the officials to join the proceedings by way of audio video link shall continue."

All told, it thus merits no reiteration that these most commendable directions issued by the Delhi High Court to maintain proper hygiene in dairies must be forthwith implemented. It brooks no more delay any longer. There can be just no denying or disputing it!

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