ALTHOUGH THE budget of the Haryana Gau Seva Commission has increased from Rs 45 lakh to Rs 30 crore in the last five years, the government has not been able to free the state from the nuisance of stray cattle. The Haryana government had first set a target to free the state of stray animals by August 15, 2018, and then had extended it to January 1, 2019. It’s been eight months since this deadline lapsed but stray cattle continue to roam free on the roads of Panchkula.
Number of policemen on cow protection squad
Responding to an RTI application filed by P P Kapoor, an activist from Panipat, the state government said a total of 332 policemen, including two DSPs, 18 police inspectors of Haryana Police (up to December 31, 2018), are working in the cow protection squad. The Panchkula police has deputed over 18 police officials in this squad, even though it faces an acute shortage of police officials. The district, which covers a total area of 898 sq kms and is responsible for a population of 5,61,293 people (according to 2011 census), has only 1,125 policemen working for it. Out of them, 752 remain on duty every day in all areas of Panchkula, including, all 31 sectors of the city, Raipurrani, Barwala, Chandimandir, Industrial Area, MDC, Pinjore and Kalka while many of them are assigned for official VVIP duties every day.
There are a total of 3,61,068 cows in the 513 gaushalas of the state, the RTI reply notes.
The RTI reply also states that Panchkula, too, was to become a cattle-free district by January 26 this year, but failed to do so as all the cow-sheds were overflowing. A total of 513 stray animals were caught and put in cow-sheds during the drive to make Haryana cattle-free while 803 animals identified by the Panchkula administration still stay loose.
Each stray that roams around is counted by putting reflector belts around its neck to show that the cattle has been counted.
P S Sangha, president of RWA, Sector 2, says, “All strays, including cattle and dogs, are a big menace in the city. Our roads are littered with cow dung. I have complained to the MC and to the CM’s window but to no avail. Even though the government claims to have spent a huge sum on cow sheds and also charges cow cess, no result can be seen on ground.” He added, “The children cannot play, the aged cannot go out for walk, and commuters are wary, all because they fear getting rammed by a stray.”
K D Prabhakar, a resident of Sector 4, who is in his early 80s, says, “The Haryana government’s indifference towards the huge problem which often causes accidents that claim lives of people is alarming. Residents of the state have been cursed to face the wrath of animals while the government is busy forming protection committees for them. Our sector market is over-populated largely due to the stray bovine. There have even been cases where they have chased people and children out for shopping.” Talking about these reflector bands, he said, “I have never seen any such band on any stray cattle’s neck. One can only imagine how many unidentified strays roam around in the city. I am sure the number is much bigger than the MC’s estimate.”
Steps taken to control cattle
While a shed with a capacity of 250 cows was built in Pinjore, the cow shed worth Rs 5.62 crore which was to be built at ‘Sukhdarshanpur’ for the cattle of Panchkula, was cancelled midway by the MC. The work was stopped after MC’s own councillor asked for a probe into the matter. But after the files were cleared by the ‘vigilance’ department, the work never began as the MC cancelled the tender.