The Gujarat government has derecognised 21 cattle camps in scarcity-hit Kutch district after it came to light that organisers of these camps were allegedly fudging the number of cattle to claim maintenance grant from the government.
The state government had announced 359 villages spread over seven talukas of Kutch as partially scarcity-hit in April-May this year. As part of the relief effort, the government had announced to pay Rs 25 maintenance grant per cattle per day to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which accommodate cattle in camps. In all, the district administration had recognised 162 such cattle camps.
But during verification, government officers reportedly found disparity in numbers of cattle that nine NGOs had claimed to be accommodating in their 21 camps and the actual count of heads in the camps. Following this, the district collector derecognised these 21 camps.
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“We understand, the district has been hit by scarcity and therefore, we can be lenient. But there was disparity in the count of cattle head. The government approves grant on the number of cattle heads. This cannot be tolerated. Therefore, we have derecognised 21 camps where such irregularities were found,” said Kutch collector Mukul Gandhi said on Tuesday.
The checking drive began on May 28 and the collector said that he had received 78 reports so far and the drive was still going on. Most of the cattle camps which have been derecognised are run by village cooperatives of milk producers. “Majority of these camps have not been paid any grant as payment is made only after such verification drives. Therefore, question of recovery does not arise,” said the collector.
Gandhi added that derecognition of camp does not mean blockade of relief to cattle-herders and cattle per se. “We have opened 88 grass depots in the district where 13.14 lakh kilogrammes of grass is available. We have issued cards to cattle-herders. A cattle herder is eligible to get four kilogramme of grass per cattle per day with a slab of maximum five cattle per card. So, those maldharis whose cattle were accommodated in camps can purchase grass from our depots,” said the collector.
The government is providing grass at Rs 2 per kg.
In arid Kutch district, cattle breeding and dairy farming is a major occupation and the district has cattle population of 22 lakh against the human population of 18 lakh. Due to deficient monsoon, the government has declared villages of Bhuj, Abdasa, Lakhpat, Rapar, Anjar and Nakhtrana talukas partially affected by scarcity.