People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has urged West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to frame a policy to replace horse-drawn carriages for tourist rides with e-carriages.
PETA India Advocacy Officer Samit Roy told reporters on Wednesday that as per an assessment done by PETA and the CAPE Foundation in July-August 2021 and November-December 2021, 81 per cent of the horses used in the carriages for tourist rides are thin or very thin and they are not being fed properly.
More than 100 horses used for rides in the city were anaemic, malnourished and chronically starved, some suffer from severe injuries, including bone fractures, and many are forced to stand on their own excreta on filthy, decrepit premises in the city, as per the assessment.
”Two-thirds of the malnourished horses have one type of wound or the other and police should stop issuing licenses to these horse carriage owners,” he said.
”We had submitted recommendations to the state for a policy to end the use of horses for tourist rides. Today we call upon Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for appointing a law enforcement committee to seize unfit and unlicensed horses. We urge her to see to it that a policy be framed to replace the use of horse-drawn coaches with sleek e-carriages,” Roy said.
When PETA organised a health check-up camp for these horses from May 10-12, none of the horse carriage owners turned up.
Nevertheless, as per ground assessments done by the veterinary team — including state government and PETA India — a majority of the horses were suffering from serious injuries, malnourishment, lameness and visual impairment, he said.
”Some horses were also found bearing spiked bits which lacerate their mouths to control their movement,” Roy said.
A fact-sheet in the report lists 10 road accidents in the metropolis involving horses, highlighting the danger of using them to haul tourists.
”Such accidents cause the animals unnecessary pain and pose potential safety risk to the passengers in the carriages and commuters on road,” Roy said.
He said that horse carriage owners had similarly avoided a medical camp for the animals from April 19-21, adding that ”horse-drawn carriages should be banned in Kolkata and replaced with electric carriages. E-carriages have successfully replaced horse drawn carriages in Mumbai and provided employment.” A division bench of the Calcutta High Court had recently directed PETA and CAPE Foundation to work with the state government to provide horses that are used to haul tourist carriages around Victoria with essential veterinary services and food.
The state government had informed the court that a comprehensive policy was being framed to address the entire issue — the condition of horses and the livelihood of the horse-drawn carriage owners, a state official said.