The state had already banned cow slaughter under the Maharashtra Animal Prevention Act, 1976, barring bulls or bullocks, the culling of which was permitted with certain regulations.
"Thanks a lot Hon President Sir for the assent on Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill. Our dream of ban on cow slaughter becomes a reality now," a pleased Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said in a tweet. BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, who had led a delegation to President Pranab Mukherjee on the issue recently, termed the assent as "a historic step with cultural as well as economic implications for the state".
He said the bill passed by the Maharashtra legislature in 1995 was forwarded for the president's assent in 1996.
"Subsequent governments in the state failed to do the needful and get the Bill implemented. We had committed to do this in our manifesto and have fulfilled it," Somaiya said. Mumbai alone consumes around 90,000 kg beef daily, with around 25 percent accounting for water buffalo meat, called carabeef, through 900 licensed and hundreds more illegal outlets.
However, all the culling and processing of around 450 large animals which are slaughtered daily is carried out only at the Deonar Abattoir, Asia's largest in north-east Mumbai. Since the past several weeks, beef traders in a majority of the state's cities and towns have been on strike protesting against harassment by right-wing and Hindu groups, who are also demanding closure of Deonar Abattoir. Beef traders apprehend that the new development will render several thousands unemployed and also hike the prices of mutton, chicken, fish and other meats, both in the retail markets and in restaurants and hotels.