Updated: April 19, 2022 8:49:41 am
A MONTH into his second term, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is set to unveil a plan to tackle the stray cattle menace. With the problem emerging as an issue during the Assembly polls, the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised a solution if returned to power.
The plan includes provisioning for shelters within 100 days to accommodate up to 50,000 stray cattle, going up to 1 lakh in six months; cow sanctuaries across the state to house cattle in a natural habitat; construction of at least 50 mega cow shelters; and raising the capacity of existing ones. Besides, each district magistrate has been given the target of ensuring shelter for at least 10 stray cows per day starting April 15.
Officials said the idea is to plan long-term, rather than look for quick fixes as in the previous regime, after the stray cattle menace exploded following a crackdown on illegal slaughter.
Next on the government agenda will be establishing biogas plants, utilising cow dung to eventually make CNG, working towards a public private partnership. Cow dung for this will be purchased from farmers. Modi had promised farmers a system where cows that have stopped giving milk (which are abandoned by farmers) would yield income through gobar, and said this would be so lucrative that people would go out of their way to adopt stray cattle.
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The state government will also identify 65,000 hectares of land kept for grazing in revenue records which will be dedicated to making fodder.
Officials said the idea was to tackle the stray cattle problem in such a way that it is “self-sufficient” and “financially viable”.
For cow sanctuaries, the government has asked district magistrates to identify available forest areas with a provision for water bodies under their jurisdictions.
Indramani, Director, Animal Husbandry, Uttar Pradesh, said they would rope in the Departments of Urban Development and Panchayati Raj. “The idea is to have as much land as possible where there is availability of forests. We can develop water sources if required, along with oversee fencing and arrangement for storing fodder.”
On utilisation of cow dung, Indramani said: “Some units are already working on this, like the one in Kanpur. A gobar gas plant has been established in Varanasi.”
A stray cattle survey done in 2019 put their number in the state at about 11.84 lakh. The state government claims to have provided shelter to about 9.30 lakh stray cattle over the past five years. However, most of these shelters are temporary. In 2018-19, the government first announced mega cow shelters – starting with 75 and going up to 213 – with the estimated expenditure of about Rs 1.20 crore each. Sources said work on over 50 such shelters is already underway and funds are likely to be increased.
In its first tenure, the Adityanth government had introduced a scheme to provide Rs 30 per stray cattle per day to individuals willing to keep them, divert 3% cess from Mandi Parishad, and impose a toll tax on cows, to stop people from abandoning cattle.
However, considering the large scale of the problem and funds required to tackle it, the government has shifted its focus to setting up a financially viable model, preferably before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
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