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Fadnavis govt to protect old cows

Nawab Malik said the BJP government has a hidden agenda, which it wants to bring forward in the name of a preservation of animals.

The Maharashtra government is set to launch a scheme aimed at protecting ageing cows by roping in non-governmental organisations, who will be provided land and financial support. The government also plans to promote sale of cow urine and cow dung under the scheme, according to state Revenue and Animal Husbandry Minister Eknath Khadse.

“We will launch a programme called ‘Gokul Gram’ that will involve NGOs for the welfare of cows,” Khadse, who is considered the number two in the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet, told The Indian Express. The aim of the scheme is to ensure that ageing cows are not sent to slaughterhouses, he said.

“It has come to our notice that once the cows grow old they are mercilessly handed over to slaughterhouse for meat. So we have taken a decision to rehabilitate them by inviting NGOs to adopt say 100 cows for which we will make the land available and also give financial help,” he said.

Besides protecting ageing and ailing cows, the NGOs will be trained on using by-products such as cow urine and cow dung, Khadse said. “The by-products of the cow such as urine and cow dung have high utility. The NGOs will be trained and connected with organisations which can market these by-products which would also generate funds,” he said.

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Elaborating on the by-products, Khadse said, “Gomutra (cow urine) has medicinal value. Often it is also used for soaps and other such products, which are good for health. It has a lot of demand in international market. So, we would like to promote the by-products after tying up with organisations engaged in its marketing.”

He said there is “growing awareness and rising demand” for cow products, “Apart from milk, people are willing to pay higher price for cow cheese.”

Ban on cow slaughter is an old agenda of the BJP and allied groups. The BJP-ruled Rajasthan had announced in 2014 that it would fulfill a poll promise by forming a separate department for preservation and protection of cows. For Maharashtra, the programme is the first of its kind.

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Khadse’s programme has the backing of another senior minister, Sudhir Mungantiwar. The state Finance Minister said his department will extend all necessary support for welfare of the cattle. “We already have an act which bans killing of cows. But we are now relentlessly pursuing the blanket ban on cattle slaughter,” he said.

Both the RSS and VHP have been vocal on the need to have laws for protection of cows. Maharashtra had sought a ban on cow slaughter through a law — the Maharashtra State Animal Preservation Act, which was mooted in 1995. It is awaiting Presidential consent.

A source in the ministry said, “The Gokul Gram scheme will not be restricted to the old and ailing cows. Gradually, the purpose would be to develop a larger market of cow products through NGOs and private players.” The state’s role would be confined to allotment of land to accommodate 100 cows.

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NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said the BJP government has a hidden agenda, which it wants to bring forward in the name of a preservation of animals.

First published on: 28-01-2015 at 01:32:43 am
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