Facing flak over death of cows at a state-run shelter, Rajasthan government suspended two JMC officials on Saturday for “inaction”, even as opposition Congress took out a rally over the issue.
Jaipur Municipal Corporation (JMC) suspended Hingonia in-charge Ramesh Kumar Sharma and deputy commissioner Sher Singh Luhadiya for their “inaction”. Both the officials were on leave when more than 90 cows died in two days at the Hingonia cow rehabilitation centre.
Work to remove the quicksand-like mud in which the animals were trapped, resumed as 266 workers of the centre, who were on strike over the past fortnight over salary issues, returned to work after their May dues were paid.
Chief minister Vasundhara Raje directed Urban Development and Housing (UDH) minister Rajpal Singh Shekhawat and animal husbandry minister Prabhu Lal Saini and other officials to inspect Hingonia shelter and also monitor other cow rehabilitation centres in the state.
After his visit, Shekhawat claimed that the “mortality rate of cows at the centre was much higher when Congress was at the helm of the JMC”. He also maintained that most of the animals brought there are already sick or injured, which explains the high mortality rates.
He however pointed out that JMC had not informed the UDH department on time about the excess mud that had gathered at the centre. “The rain worsened the situation and since the dung wasn’t cleared regularly, the mud became quicksand-like, trapping the animals,” he said and assured regular monitoring of the centre.
The minister also said that contractors would be asked to pay workers’ salaries through cheques, “so that there is documentary evidence of the payment”. He added that JMC will also be asked to have some backup facility to face future strikes.
Saini directed the officials to segregate the sick cows from healthy ones and said that the quality of the fodder given to the bovines will be improved.
Meanwhile, Congress stepped up pressure on the Rajasthan government by taking out a “Gau Raksha yatra” from the Pradesh Congress Office to the Govind Dev Ji Temple where they prayed for the cows.
“The BJP government does politics in the name of cows, but does nothing when hundreds of cows are dying at Hingonia every day. We have decided not to let the JMC catch stray cows anymore as the animals are better off without going to the centre, which has turned into a death trap,” said Pratap Singh Khachariawas, Congress district president and PCC spokesperson.
Khachariawas claimed the participation of Muslims in the march, and said that “people from every community stand united against the government and the shameful treatment of cows”.
Year wise deaths of cows at the Hingonia rehab centre
In 2012, a total of 3,743 cows died at the centre
5,538 cow deaths were reported in 2013
In 2014, at least 7,694 deaths were reported
The numbers increased manifolds in 2015. A total of 12,915 cows died at the centre
Till July this year, 7,373 cows have died at Hingonia centre.