At least 50 cows at a government-run cattle shelter in Barmer have died over the last 15 days, an official said on Thursday.
Jabar Singh, in-charge of the shelter, blamed poor quality fodder for the deaths. “There’s no arrangement for drinking water and due to unhygienic conditions, cows at the shelter are falling sick. And in the absence of any medical facility, 50 cows have died until now,” he said.
The Barmer Municipal Council did not have an animal pound until last year and used to send stray cattle rounded up from the city streets to gaushalas or cow shelters in neighbouring Gujarat.
In November 2015, the municipal council sent 1,000 cattle to a gaushala in Deesa in Gujarat following which Hindu right-wing organisation Shiv Sena called a bandh in the city on February 1, compelling the collector to instruct the civic body to construct an animal pound.
The malaise behind cow deaths at government-run cattle shelters made media headlines after 500 cows died at Hingonia village on the outskirts of Jaipur.
There were 440 stray cattle until two weeks back but now there are 390 at the shelter, which is essentially a cattle pound, Singh said.
Barmer municipal council commissioner Sarwan Bishnoi said the stray cattle that are brought to the shelter eat plastic they get dry fodder in, which causes a lump in their stomach, leading to their death. “We are trying to arrange for green fodder,” he said.
He, however, denied 50 cows have died in the last fortnight. “The number could only be 10-15.”
Complaints of poor quality fodder at the shelter were made during the board meeting of municipal council when some councillors alleged irregularities in fodder supply contract.
Basant Khatri, the district head of Shiv Sena, said the party was collecting green grass, food grains and vegetables from residents and transporting the collected items to the shelter but had to stop the initiative after objections from some councillors.
More than a hundred cows have died over the past two months and municipal authorities are responsible for the deaths, he said.
“They (civic authorities) cannot run it properly and will not allow others to pitch in,” he said.
The municipal council has no budget for the cow shelter and runs it with donations from residents.