Around 50 km from central Delhi, Sukhbir Singh Deshwal is busy feeding fodder to his 12 buffaloes at Ghoga Dairy Colony. The job done, he rests on a charpai, smoking a hookah.
Deshwal is among the 118 dairy farmers who relocated to the 188-acre plot near north Delhi’s Narela, in line with the erstwhile unified MCD’s plan to free the city of the cattle menace and develop a separate cattle products hub.
The corporation had provided 2,082 plots in 2004, saying dairy farms would be shifted in a phased manner. But a majority of dairy farmers refused to relocate, citing inadequate facilities, including water shortage.
Since the December 31 deadline to relocate expired, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation has lodged complaints against 84 dairy owners and requested the police to file an FIR.
Passing the hookah to other dairy owners gathered around him, Deshwal said: “Why will people shift when they are getting a better rate for milk and other products in the city? When we came here, we were promised that a supply chain will be developed… and that we could sell milk at the market rate to a single vendor.”
“But currently, we either have our own contacts to whom we give milk or we sell it individually — at two rupees less than the market rate,” he said.
A short distance away, past a big nallah choked with dung, is Virender Mohan’s dairy. “Several animals have died after falling inside. The corporation had planned to build a biogas plant to deal with the dung, but it never took off. We have to pay to clear the dung periodically.”
“If this is the situation with just 100 dairies in the area, imagine how it would be when a thousand more are shifted,” he said.
“The corporation had said it would open shops for fodder, but it didn’t. Now we have to buy fodder in bulk from Haryana. As there are no boundary walls, wild animals enter the farm and eat the fodder,” he said.
“There were also plans to build a pond, which didn’t take off. The Animal Hospital hardly has medicines or a treatment facility,” Mohan added.
A staff at the hospital, Sandeep Sharma, said, “We got our last batch of medicines in April. The maximum demand here is for medicines for infections, which finished soon.”
For operations and other facilities, cattle are referred to other hospitals, he said.
Director of the veterinary department in the North Corporation, Jagbir Singh, said that the biogas plant project, boundary wall and fodder shops have not been built, but they have now written to the DEMS department to start the process.
He said other facilities will be given once more dairy owners shift there. “We had given December 31 as the deadline to all illegal dairy owners to shift to their allotted plots in Ghoga, else their allotment will be cancelled,” Singh said.