February 12, 2016 1:32:22 am
As Bundelkhand faces yet another drought and farmers struggle to provide fodder for their cattle, the number of stray animals, mostly cows and its progeny, in the region is becoming a cause for concern.
The district administration of Mahoba, the worst-affected among seven Bundelkhand districts, claims that nearly 80 per cent of 2.16 lakh cows and its progeny are abandoned. Farmers are now questioning the logic behind ban on slaughter of the cows.
There is a complete ban on slaughter of cows and its progeny in Uttar Pradesh since 2002.
Villagers said that while earlier cows and calves used to be bought, the new focus on cow slaughter has made it impossible to sell them once they stop giving milk. Hundreds of cows and bulls have been reported to be chased by locals from one village to another. Many farmers have also reported difficulty in protecting crops growing in their fields.
Mahoba Chief Veterinary Officer Sadiq Ali said they are forming village committees to ask the villagers not to abandon their animals. He said that while buffalo and its progeny are not abandoned, nearly 80 per cent of the 2.16 lakh cows and its progeny have been turned away by their owners.
Last month, after the visit of Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan, the administration started a one-time distribution of 5 kg fodder for adult animals and 2.5 kg for younger ones.
One truck of fodder brought from Khurai in Madhya Pradesh, at the rate of Rs 785 per quintal, was brought to Gurha village in Charkhari tehsil. Village pradhan Prem Narayan said hundreds of cows and calves from his village of 10,000 residents had been abandoned.
“Now these animals are dying in search of water and fodder. Either the government should allow their slaughter, as it used to take place years ago, or provide fodder for them. Nobody wants to keep cows that do not give milk. This distribution is one-time and will last only a day. And villagers will give it to buffaloes,” he said.
Ali said they are now giving as much fodder as required, and not just once. “We have a budget allocation for that. Once it is used, we will get more funds. However, we cannot ensure that the abandoned animals will be fed,” he said.
On the other hand, BJP leader and former MP Ganga Charan Rajput said that thousands of cows are being trafficked from Bundelkhand to Pakistan for slaughter via Rajasthan. “Villagers have nothing to feed them, so they are giving away their cows for free. Thousands of such cows go for slaughter from Bundelkhand,” he claimed.
RSS pracharak Raj Kumar said their organisations keep an eye on trafficking of cows for slaughter. He said they also run cowsheds (gaushala) for abandoned cows.
Bundelkhand has always faced the problem of abandoned animals, which hugely affects its crops, especially during Kharif season. The tradition of abandoning animals, known as Anna Pratha, has led to the abandonment of mostly cows and its progeny because buffaloes are easily sold for slaughter, fetching an income for the owner.
“This was a problem earlier too, but now consecutive droughts and damage of crops in the last two years have led to scarcity of fodder,” said Ali.
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