The government has prepared a draft bill to set up a Maharashtra Cow Service Commission with a view to prevent illegal cow slaughter, increase the breeding of local cows through gaushalas and monitor the functioning of gaushalas in the state. Besides, the draft bill says, the commission should suggest schemes to the government for the setting up of industries to “generate power and bio-gas from cow milk, urine and dung”.
Officials from the state animal husbandry department said the proposed commission, to be headed by the animal husbandry minister, would be a 23-member body, including government officials and representatives from NGOs. “The commission would be responsible for protecting cows seized by the police on suspicion of being taken for slaughter and for initiating legal action against those involved in such acts,” said an official.
The official added that the commission would be tasked with ensuring effective implementation of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995 and The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. “The commission will have powers to impose a fine of Rs 50,000 for the first offence and Rs 1 lakh for the second offence for violations of the provisions of the bill under which it would be constituted,” said the official.
A senior official said the finance department has raised certain queries regarding the proposal, which was drafted late last year. “We will submit our response soon. The proposal will subsequently be presented to the state cabinet.”
Another official said the idea of such a commission was suggested after studying similar commissions functioning in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
“Apart from suggesting schemes to set up industries for generating power and biogas from cow milk, urine and dung, it will also coordinate with universities and research institutes to providing new scientific technologies and financial assistance to economically weaker gaushalas,” said the official.
The official added that it is proposed that the commission will work to increase the productivity of grazing land, to develop these and to encourage the breeding of local cows and milk production. “The gaushalas or any organisation working in the field will have to register themselves with the commission, which will monitor their work, carry out annual audits and can take action on complaints against these organisations. Overall, it will ensure the protection and development of cows in the state,” the official said.