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Illegal cowsheds face civic body axe

Illegal cowsheds after unauthorised buildings — the civic body is just going the tougher way like never before.

Senior officials of the new capital circle of Patna Municipal Corporation have claimed that around half-a-dozen cowsheds were demolished and 16 cattle seized in Rajeev Nagar in a related drive on Friday.

The drive would continue till December 19 when a hearing in a related public interest litigation (PIL) is scheduled at Patna High Court.

A division bench of Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Vikash Jain, during the hearing of the PIL filed by one Ashok Kumar Sinha against existence of khatals (cowsheds) within the municipal limits, had on September 30 asked station house officer and executive officer of the civic body to file separate affidavits on the next date of hearing (December 19) that cowsheds within their jurisdiction do not exist or have been removed.

A survey has been done on the cowsheds in the New Capital Area and the corresponding list has been made available to the police station and the sanitation inspectors of the area concerned as well as the district control room.

Accordingly, an action plan was prepared by the additional district magistrate. Thus, all sanitary inspectors in the new capital circle have been asked to make arrangements for adequate number of sanitation supervisors and labourers for execution on the action plan in removal of the cowsheds,” said Sheshank Kumar Sinha, the PMC’s new capital circle executive officer.

According to the list of cowsheds prepared by the PMC, there are around 350 cowsheds in different parts of the city at present.

The number of cows, buffaloes and calves accommodated in these sheds range from three to five in the lower limit to 50 to 70 animals in the upper limit.

In the PIL, Ashok had submitted before the court that not only do cowsheds cause unnecessary obstruction and hindrance to citizens but also they are very unhygienic because of the animal excreta.

Executive officer Sheshank said apart from demolishing the cowsheds, penalty is also being imposed at the rate of Rs 5,000 per animal (cow). “Our teams collected an amount of Rs 80,000 during the drive on Friday and an undertaking is also being taken from owners of the cowsheds that they would not return,” he said.

Though the civic body has now initiated the drive but stray cattle can be seen on many busy streets, including Nala Road, Kadamkuan, Rajendra Nagar, Kankerbagh, Boring Road, Buddha Marg, Sinha Library Road and Ashiana-Digha road among others.

Residents also seem to be annoyed at the bovine menace. “Since cows are considered sacred in the Hindu religion, people do not hit these animals. But these cattle often turn out to be a bane when they loiter on the streets. Once I was riding my bike during night and suddenly I saw sitting a few of them on the middle of Nala Road. By the time I could apply the brakes, I had hit an animal because of which I also suffered major cuts and bruises,” said Alok Kumar, a resident of Kadamkuan.

On the other hand, cowshed owners have demanded that they should be provided with some alternative location for sustaining their livelihood. “If the administration removes our cowsheds then where would we go? This is our only source of generating livelihood and our families depend on it. If not possible within the city, the government can develop some cattle shelter on the outskirts but not very far though,” said a milkman, who is also a cowshed owner near Magistrate Colony, on condition of anonymity.

The civic body is also in the process of identifying a place for disposal of the animal carcass. Patna Municipal Commissioner Kuldip Narayan, in a letter (dated December 5) to the urban development and housing department secretary, has sought guidance and technical support for selection of a place for disposing the animal carcass in any remote location.

Patna does not have a facility to properly dispose carcass and as a result people generally dump those on the outskirts and even in the Ganga.