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DMs toil as Yogi cow deadline passes

Yogi Adityanath had on January 3 given district and civic officials a week to catch and herd stray cattle into cow shelters

By PTI in Lucknow
  • Published 14.01.19, 1:33 PM
  • Updated 14.01.19, 1:33 PM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Stray cows have always been a problem in Uttar Pradesh, where farmers stop feeding their cows for the six months a year they run dry, letting them wander around for pastures during the daytime. AP file picture

Officials are yet to complete the relocation of stray cattle to shelter homes although the deadline set by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath ended on Thursday.

Reacting to public anger at stray cattle damaging crops and causing street accidents, Adityanath had on January 3 given district and civic officials a week to catch and herd these animals into cow shelters and fine the owners when they reclaimed them.

“Work is on everywhere. The district magistrates are adopting innovative ways to implement the policy,” an animal husbandry department official said, requesting anonymity.

In Lalitpur district, “a cow shelter is being managed with public partnership” and in Firozabad, “rural job scheme funds have been used for this purpose”, he said.

“In Etawah, a good mechanism has been developed to identify stray cattle and a provision made with the help of local people to arrange for fodder.”

He added: “Temporary cow shelters have been identified at the district, village and panchayat levels. Work is on in several areas to establish new cow shelters.”

Uttar Pradesh farmers stop feeding their cows for the six months a year they run dry, letting them wander around for pastures during the daytime.

To these have now been added — thanks to BJP governments’ policies — old cows and bulls that people fear to sell or buy lest they be accused of engaging in or encouraging cow slaughter or smuggling.

Angry at the stray cattle menace, farmers have been locking them up in school and government premises in the hundreds, causing many to die of hunger, thirst and cold. The scandal prompted Adityanath’s January 3 order during a videoconference with district magistrates.

The state has over 100 kanji houses or cattle pounds and plans to build 68 more. It has another 59 government cow shelters, where veterinary care is provided too, as well as cow shelters run by 120 NGOs with government aid.

Recently, the state government sanctioned Rs 10 crore for every municipal corporation to build cattle shelters and Rs 1.2 crore for each district administration to help protect cattle.

Asked when all the cow shelters would become operational, the official hedged, mouthing generalities about this being “a continuous process” and every district having “its own local needs”.

Asked why the cattle were being abandoned, he said: “The problem is at places where there is low productivity, and the animals have turned out to be economically non-viable assets.”

He added that Bundelkhand had a tradition of anna pratha, under which farmers let their cattle loose — especially unproductive and pregnant cows, and mainly during the summer — to graze freely.

The Basti district administration has opened a helpline for people to report stray cattle.

“Many people tell me about stray cattle escaping an accident or being hit by a speeding vehicle. The public does not know where to call for assistance,” Basti district magistrate Raj Shekhar said.

The state government recently imposed a 0.5 per cent “cow welfare cess” on excise duty, certain public-sector undertakings and on the toll on some expressways, among other things, to help build and maintain more cow shelters. 

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