Nearly two months after the Congress government stopped supply of free electricity to gaushalas (cow shelters) in the state, the Gau Sewa Commission chairman has now written to Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) questioning why cow cess collection, which is being levied on electricity bills, is not being used for the purpose.
The Gau Sewa chairman Kimti Bhagat in his letter (a copy is with The Indian Express) has questioned why the ‘cow cess’ which is being collected at rate of Rs 2 per unit in Punjab is not being used to provide free electricity to 472 registered gaushalas in the state.
Claiming that the cow shelters being run by NGOs, trusts and other bodies are in ‘extremely poor financial state’, Bhagat in his letter said, “The previous government through its notification March 28, 2016, had given a nod to provide free power supply to gaushalas. However, citing budget constraints the Congress government has stopped this facility as per orders dated May 8 this year. But we would like to ask that why the money which is being collected by PSPCL in form of cow cess is not being used for the purpose.”
Citing the proceedings of a meeting held with PSPCL officials on August 4, Bhagat said, “They have admitted that they have already collected Rs 2.52 crore as cow cess from four Nagar councils and two Municipal Corporations in three months. There are 156 nagar councils and 10 Municipal Corporations, which means that at least Rs 50 crore would have been collected as cow cess on power bills.”
The chairman further claimed that ‘PSPCL in its a letter dated May 16 last year informed that the budget requirement to provide free electricity to gaushalas is Rs 9.56 crore only. “PSPCL is collecting close to Rs 50 crore by charging cow cess on electricity bills from people, but it cannot make budgetary provisions for free power to cow shelters? 472 gaushalas in Punjab are taking care of at least 3.84 lakh animals. We have urged the PSPCL chairman to look into this and arrange for the required budget for the purpose. Cow cess is meant for welfare of cows. If it cannot be used for cow shelters, then what is the purpose of collecting it at all?,” Bhagat told The Indian Express.