In an attempt to find a solution to the increasing population of stray cattle — often termed as a menace due to resulting road accidents — the Ludhiana administration had in January raised an appeal asking people to passively adopt abandoned cows in government gaushalas. However, it has not received a single application so far even as more and more stray cattle are sent to be accommodated in an already full shelter.
Punjab at present has over 1 lakh stray animals roaming the streets.
The Ludhiana additional deputy commissioner (development) had then proposed that an individual donate Rs 1,100 per month or Rs 11,000 per annum to sponsor a cow staying in the Punjab government’s gaushala in Burj Pawat village in Ludhiana’s Samrala Tehsil. The gaushala currently has 309 cows who don’t give milk.
The Punjab government had set up 22 gaushalas, one in each district, in 2016-17. As a one-time payment, Rs 60 lakh had been sent to each gaushala for maintenance. The government has not yet made any commitment to pay an annual sum to gaushalas. The government gaushala in Ludhiana has two cow sheds, a fodder shed, an employees room, tubewell etc.
With just Rs 16-17 lakh of the corpus amount left, and the Ludhiana ADC had raised an appeal in January to involve the public in this project. Ashok Kumar, deputy director, animal husbandry, said, “Though we have roped in the NGO Dhyan Foundation, which takes care of the animals, we still need running expenses. Public support is needed because stray cattle keep coming in. Moreover, the cow cess collected by Ludhiana Municipal Corporation is not given to this gaushala as it is outside the MC limits while the Samrala Municipal Committee’s collection is at its bare minimum. This confusion needs to be cleared from the public’s mind regarding cow cess. There needs to be centralised distribution of cow cess, as it is collected by local bodies.”
Ajit Lakra, a prominent industrialist of Ludhiana and volunteer with the Dhyan Foundation, said, “We have employed seven people whom the NGO pays salaries. They take care of the animals and the gaushala. Fodder is provided by the district administration while power bill is waived for gaushalas. As an NGO, we are doing regular maintenance of gaushala on our own, have even got CCTV cameras installed. But if people start adopting animals, they can be taken care of and the problem of stray animals on roads can be minimised. Now more sheds are needed, but funds need to be sent by the government to build them. Otherwise the gaushala cannot accommodate more cows.”
Sources in the district administration said people can even donate towards expenses incurred on green fodder, husk, medicines and feed for cows, and a fee receipt of the same will also be given. Collective adoption by a group of persons is also possible. “After the last appeal in January, we got a few phone calls, but ultimately no donor came forward,” said Kumar.
The Ludhiana ADC had also suggested that donors can also celebrate their birthdays, wedding anniversaries etc. by tending to abandoned cows, but no response has been received by authorities.
Facing flak from several quarters for accidents and attacks caused by the stray cattle, some even leading to deaths, Punjab Local Bodies Minister Brahm Mohindra had in August initiated a “physical verification” exercise to ascertain the extent of the cow cess — imposed by Punjab government and collected by the local bodies and excise departments — being collected and used to check the stray cattle menace.