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Chips to snare capital’s cows

New Delhi, Aug. 11: Computers ' shining India’s most potent symbol ' and cows, Bharat’s mascot, have finally come together.

The Delhi civic authorities, under fire over stray cattle roaming the streets, have begun bugging the capital’s 35,000 cows and buffaloes with computer chips.

The chips, connected by remote to computers, will help the authorities to not only identify and track wandering cattle but also to tell a Delhi cow from ones straying in from Haryana or Uttar Pradesh. Punjab has already implanted such chips in its cattle.

Delhi High Court had last week slammed the civic authorities for failing to round up stray cattle and ordered them to pay Rs 2,000 to any one who brings in one. At Rs 500, the chips are cheaper.

“We can now keep track of cows and see where they are and try to curb the problem of cows moving around in the streets,” said C.B. Singh, a veterinary officer with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

The chips will be lodged, ticking, inside the cattle’s rumens ' their “first stomachs” where they store food after swallowing them, to be regurgitated and chewed later at leisure.

To make the chip heavy enough so that it settles down in the rumen and doesn’t slip into the “fourth stomach”, where most of the digestion takes place, it will be put in a capsule made of a non-toxic, inert metal.

The chip will be a virtual registration book ' it will contain the animal’s code number, the owner’s name and details of its sale and annual vaccinations. These can be read through a gadget called a “reader” and updated through a computer to which the chip is connected. Any cow without a chip will be impounded.

The idea took shape a few months ago as the civic authorities began setting up a modern dairy complex at Ghogha village in northwest Delhi, where unauthorised dairies, ordered closed by the high court, could shift.

As land rates at Ghogha were less than half of those in an industrial area being developed in the neighbourhood, property dealers ' instead of dairy owners ' began buying the application forms for these plots, local sources said.

To stop the land sharks from grabbing the plots, the civic body had laid down that a would-be buyer must show proof that he owns cattle. What better way to check fraud over this than planting chips in every cow and buffalo, so that each animal is accounted for and all relevant details about it recorded, including the identity of its owner'

The court glare on stray cattle has now hastened the process.

“Now with a microchip in them, cows can be caught more quickly,” Singh said.

The cost of the chips will be recovered by auctioning off impounded cows, or from the Rs 10,000 fine paid by owners to get them released.

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