Bovine Concern: UP must consider realistic solutions to its stray cattle problem

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Published: February 26, 2020 6:00:35 AM

Uttar Pradesh is blaming Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh for its stray cattle problem—one of its ministers, Times of India reports, believes that cattle are routinely abandoned at the borders with the two states, and the animals stray into UP.

cow, cow slaughterThough the government allocated Rs 247.6 crore in FY19 for gaushalas in rural areas and another Rs 200 crore for Kanha gaushalas, most of these are packed beyond capacity, and the state needs more infrastructure and workforce to deal with the problem.

Uttar Pradesh (UP) is blaming Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh for its stray cattle problem—one of its ministers, Times of India reports, believes that cattle are routinely abandoned at the borders with the two states, and the animals stray into UP. It is hard to see why the ‘illegal immigrants’ don’t stray back despite homing tendencies; surely UP wouldn’t exactly be greener pastures, even for the bovine? While the minister called for this to be investigated, the state should perhaps also consider probing the impact its crackdown on slaughterhouses, and the fear that killer cow vigilantes—with the authorities looking the other way—have generated, even for legal cattle trade.

To be sure, cow slaughter has long been banned in Uttar Pradesh, and the state’s crackdown on abattoirs has been mostly directed at illegal slaughterhouses and mechanised slaughterhouses. However, the fact is that, emboldened by the ruling party leaders’ posturing on cattle slaughter and trade, cow vigilantes or gau rakshaks have also gone after cattle traders with impunity. The chilling effect this has had on cattle trade could also be a reason why strays are taking over Uttar Pradesh’s streets. Although the state announced a Rs 30 per-diem-per-cattle grant for those adopting stray cattle, there haven’t been many takers for the scheme. Perhaps, the fact that simply feeding one animal costs nearly Rs 60 (a 2017 estimate by The Indian Express) has proven a deterrent. Though the government allocated Rs 247.6 crore in FY19 for gaushalas in rural areas and another Rs 200 crore for Kanha gaushalas, most of these are packed beyond capacity, and the state needs more infrastructure and workforce to deal with the problem. Blaming neighbours without protecting legal cattle trade and coming up with realistic solutions to the problem won’t herd the strays off the roads.

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