Bahadur Sharma, 55, is the manager of Shri Krishan Gaushala, Jaipur district
The new Congress government in Rajasthan recently announced that people who adopt stray cows would be felicitated on Republic and Independence Day. Bahadur Mal Sharma, 55, manager of the Shri Krishan Gaushala in Paota, a village in Jaipur district, isn’t too optimistic that people will come forward to adopt cows.
How many cows are in this shelter?
At present there are 425 cows. This shelter was opened way back in 1977.
Is this only for strays or can anyone leave their cows here?
The cows in our shelter include strays as well as those left by farmers once they stop producing milk. Once a cow stops producing milk, no farmer wants to keep it and if they are not kept at cow shelters, the animals start damaging crops or cause accidents. We charge a one-time fee of Rs 2,100 from the farmers for each such cow.
What is the expenditure incurred in running this shelter?
It costs about Rs 3 lakh a month to run this shelter. The local vyapar mandal (traders’ federation) has decided to donate part of their revenues to our shelter. We get another Rs 50,000 from the sale of milk as there are around 15 milch cows here. We collect the rest of the amount from local shops. We go to each shop and ask them to donate as much as they can, anything ranging from Rs 50-100. There are around a thousand shops near the shelter. Besides, the Directorate of Gopalan provides Rs 16 a day for cows below 2 years and Rs 32 for the older ones. But this is only for six months a year, after which shelters have to put in their own money. Anyway, the government grant is never enough. We can’t even buy dry fodder for six months with that money.
What do you think of the government’s new scheme and has anyone adopted a cow from here?
It seems the scheme has been launched with good intentions, to motivate people to donate to cow shelters. Even if people adopt 20 cows and pay for their upkeep, it will ease our burden and we can keep 20 more stray animals in their space. But honestly, I don’t think many people will come forward to adopt cows. Everybody talks about cow welfare but nobody is interested in actually taking responsibility.
If somebody decides to adopt a cow, how much would that person have to pay?
We haven’t received any intimation about the scheme. But it takes at least Rs 100 a day to maintain a cow. This includes money for dry fodder, green fodder, medicines and labour.