Jharkhand has tagged over 12,000 cows with Aadhaar-like 12-digit unique identification (UID) number to prevent illegal transportation of cattle, improve their milk yield and monitor their health, officials said, amid a nationwide debate on cow vigilantism.
The Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday that it will soon approve tamper-proof identity tags for all cattle in the country that will document a range of data, including a unique number and the type of their horn and tail, as part of efforts to prevent illegal transportation of cattle and livestock to Bangladesh.
Jharkhand State Implement Agency for Cattle and Buffalo (JSIACB), a wing of the government of India, has been working on a pilot project to tag its cattle with Aadhaar-like details in eight districts -- Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Dhanbad, Bokaro, Jamshedpur, Deoghar, Giridih and Lohardaga -- much before the Centre’s proposal.
The pilot project is being carried under the Centre’s INAPH (information network for animal productivity and health) scheme for the last one year in Jharkhand.
“The information will be uploaded on the master data within a week,” INAPH’s Jharkhand nodal in-charge KK Tiwary said.
Tiwary said each animal has been tagged with 12-digit UID numbers, which is fixed around its ears, with records of identification details such as age, breed, sex, lactation, height, body, colour, horn type, tail switch, special mark and others. In Jharkhand, there is around 42 lakh head of cattle, and 70% of them are cows.
“The Centre has recently directed us to extend the programme to all 24 districts and tag at least 18 lakh cattle in a year,” Tiwary said.
JSIACB chief executive officer Dr Govind Prasad said tracking of the breeding programme is one of the aims of the project. He said the unique ID would also help Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, constituted in each district of Jharkhand, to monitor and check illegal trade of cattle in their respective districts.
In a bid to check illegal trade of cattle and their slaughtering, the Jharkhand government issued an order on March 27 for the closure of all illegal slaughterhouses across the state. The state administration has closed more than 1,000 illegal slaughterhouses so far.
Jharkhand is one of the few states in the country where the Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 2005, is in place. The act imposes a penalty of Rs 5,000 and imprisonment of up to 5 years or both for offenders. However, despite the law, cow slaughter continues unabated in the several illegal slaughter houses across many districts.
Prasad said after compilation of the information to the database, details of each animal could be accessed anywhere and anytime. “The animal details could also be tracked through smartphones,” he said.
Focus on cow protection, especially by vigilante groups, has risen since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power at the Centre 3 years ago.
There has been a string of cow-related violence but many state governments, particularly those ruled by the BJP, have defended the action on the grounds that the animal is considered holy by many Hindus.
Critics, however, accuse these vigilante groups of targeting people, mostly from the Muslim and Dalit communities.