Updated: August 15, 2021 10:13:30 am
SEVEN MONTHS have passed since the Sukhdarshanpur cowshed established in Panchkula for the effective management of stray cattle in the district became functional, but citizens of the district are yet to get a respite from the menace. A petition by trans-Ghaggar residents of the district has yet again highlighted the issue as the High Court has ordered Additional Chief Secretary to look into the matter expeditiously and provide a solution.
It was in January this year that the much-awaited cowshed of Panchkula in Sukhdarshanpur was inaugurated by the then Cabinet minister, Ratanlal Kataria, Haryana Assembly Speaker and local MLA Gian Chand Gupta as well as Mayor to “curb the menace of strays in the district,” local MLA Gian Chand Gupta had said.
Several deadlines to curb menace lapsed
But even six months after the Municipal Corporation passed a resolution to make Panchkula free of stray animals, district remains far from achieving it. The MC General House in its first meeting in January had resolved to make Panchkula free of stray cattle by March this year.
This is not the first such deadline that the district has missed and will certainly not be the last. 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. Years have since passed but to no avail.
Budget hiked from Rs 45 lakh to Rs 50 crore but to no effect
Even though the budget of the Haryana Gau Seva Commission has increased from Rs 45 lakh to Rs 50 crore in the last seven years, the government has not been able to free the state from the nuisance of stray cattle.
The Sukhdarshanpur cowshed, as per a member of the trust, has beeb allotted the area for 10 years. “We already have about 570 cows with us,” he said.
As per an MC survey in 2019, a total of 803 stray cattle head had been identified by the Panchkula administration which remained loose. However, the updated numbers revealed in an RTI application filed in 2021 now stood at 1700 stray cattle head in 20 wards of the city. Even this is a gross undercount, allege locals.
B R Mehta, resident of Sector 25, also a member of association which filed the petition in the High Court, says, “Hundreds of stray cattle are always roaming the roads near and around us only. The numbers represented are far less than the actual ones. There is at least double the stray cattle in Panchkula as compared to what MC has counted.”
Meanwhile, the cowshed, built in an area of over 4.25 acres at a cost of Rs 5.6 crore, said to have a capacity to accommodate 1000-1200 cattle head still remains only half full.
Continuing to pick up strays: Mayor
“I have promised the public to make the city free of stray cattle and dogs and am keeping a close eye on meeting all deadlines,” Mayor Kulbhushan Goyal had said at a press statement in January. Speaking with The Indian Express, he said, “While the HC order is not aimed towards me and has been sent to the ACS, I would say that we are picking up strays every other day and have rounded up about 900. We have sent 200 of them to the Mansa Devi cowshed and the remaining to Sukhdarshanpur.”
When asked about the deadline, he said, “Yes, there was a deadline but we are not sitting idle and are working towards achieving it. The residents of Sector 25 are not actually bothered by strays but by cattle owners who leave cattle out in evening for grazing. That is an issue in three-four spots of the city.”
But as per the Haryana Municipal by laws, it is the duty of MC authorities to ensure that “no person shall permit his cattle to stray on public streets.” Even the numbers stated by the Mayor contradicted the numbers given by trustees of Sukhdarshanpur cowshed.
Several deaths because of strays
The stray cattle have been the prime cause of a number of accidents both at the in-roads as well as national highways of Panchkula. As per an RTI reply by the state in 2020, at least 16 had died in accidents due to stray cattle in Panchkula between February 2018 and March 2020. These figures continue to raise serious concerns over the claims of state government’s initiatives to curb the menace.
As per the chairman of the Haryana Gau Sewa Ayoga (HGSA), Shravan Kumar Garg, stray cattle population in the state increased to over 5 lakh from 2.5 lakh since 2015. “I do not have the numbers of stray cattle still on roads immediately,” he said.
The state passed a budget of Rs 50 crore for the Haryana Gau Sewa Ayoga in financial year 2021-22, from the 30 crores in years 2020-21 which had risen from a budget of Rs 45 lakhs in 2018.
As per Shravan, as many as 650 cowsheds remain functional across Haryana.
The state has also formed a Cow Task Force in each district with the Deputy Commissioner as its chairman and SP and other senior administrators as members for each district who will have to submit a monthly report to a committee being formed at the state level with the chairman of the Haryana Gau Sewa Ayoga (HGSA) heading it. This Special Cow Protection Task Force’s (SCPTF) major role will be to rehabilitate stray cattle of the State in Gaushalas/Nandishalas/Gau Abhyaranyas.
Despite a huge budget and several initiatives for cow protection, people continue to be harassed by the prevailing and growing stray cattle menace.
HC orders Additional Chief Secretary of local bodies dept to look into matter
The Punjab and Haryana High Court while disposing of a plea concerning the stray cattle menace in Panchkula on Saturday, asked petitioner to request the Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Local Bodies, Haryana, to look into the matter expeditiously and take remedial measures, if required.
The petitioner, Citizen Committee House Owner, of Panchkula, had sought directions to be issued to MC Panchkula to take immediate steps to check the rising stray cattle nuisance in the trans-Ghaggar sectors, and further to take into custody abandoned, stray, confiscate or seized cow from the concerned local bodies and maintain them.
It was also sought to earmark suitable areas to relocate stray cattle from Sector 25 to the Gaushala in the respondent’s area.
The petitioner submitted that he had made a representation in this regard to the civic body Commissioner on February 14. However no action was taken.
The bench of Justice Anil Kshetarpal, after hearing the plea held, “Keeping in view the controversy involved, it is considered appropriate to request the Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Local Bodies, Haryana, to look into the matter expeditiously and take the remedial measures, if any required.” -Express News Service
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