Be it the heart-wrenching sight of dogs feeding on cow carcasses or that the bovines were fed only once a day, an Animal Welfare Board report on the condition of Hingonia Cow Rehabilitation Centre last year had it all.
If only authorities had acted on it, more than 500 cows could have been saved.
After its visit in September 2015, the Board, a statutory body under the environment ministry, had highlighted the lack of facilities and failure of the system to protect the lives of cows. It had also sought explanation from the Jaipur Municipal Corporation (JMC) in October and December, but the civic body didn’t bother to reply.
On receiving the Board’s report after the mass deaths this August, the Rajasthan high court observed that Hingonia has turned into a ‘slaughterhouse’ for cows.
The report, a copy of which is with HT, rebuts claims made by JMC officials that the mass deaths were a sudden phenomenon due to unprecedented heavy rain this year.
On the contrary, it stresses that even a year ago, the situation at Hingonia was as bad.
The report stated that the allegation of cruelty on cows and mismanagement of facility are true. “The condition of cows is even worse than alleged.”
“Each compound has almost 40% more cows than its capacity making them highly congested. Due to this, weak and unhealthy cows have to suffer. This also leads to easier infestation of infections. Even though there is ample space to build new compounds, authorities are not taking any actions,” the report said.
Cows were fed highly impure dry fodder containing sand, stems and stones in it, and only once a day, at or after 11 am, it noted. Neither green fodder nor supplements, minerals and essential nutrients, critical for their health, were served.
“The way they serve fodder led to deprivation among the weak or unhealthy cows,” it said.
The Board found that drinking water was inadequate for the cows, especially in the scorching heat of summers. On the cleanliness, it stated that there “was a consistency of unclean areas”.
The report also punctured claims made by JMC officials that the sick animals are segregated from the healthy ones.
Terming as “unimaginable cruelty”, the officials said they had witnessed dogs digging up and feeding on piles of cow carcasses that were buried in a very small pit covered by only half-a-feet of soil.
“During the inspection we took graphic images of bodies lying here and there,” says the report.
Observing the rising mortality rate of cow from 19.72 cows per day in 2011 to 41 per day in 2015, it raised questions on the role of managers, employees, doctors and person in-charge of this facility.
The officials observed that the staff appointed in the compound did not cooperate with the polyclinic staff.
The Board also highlighted corruption among JMC officials with respect to milk obtained from the cattle and donations made for their welfare.
“From the records, it can be verified that there are hundreds of cows which can produce milk. But no records as to where the milk goes are found. We witnessed the staff of the facility take the milk for themselves,” the report said, adding that the staff and management “are enjoying the value derived from these for themselves”.
Although many people donated various items such as green fodder, bull carts and tripals for the cows, no records are maintained of such items, it said.
Mayor Nirmal Nahata said, “The report has been submitted in the Rajasthan High Court and we have been complying with the orders which are being issued by the court in order to improve the facilities available at Hingonia.”
Dogs maul pregnant cow, kill calf
On the night of September 1, 2015, a pregnant cow went into labour. Just as the face of a calf came out of its womb, some dogs attacked the cow disabling it from bringing out its little one. In the morning, the doctors operated on the cow and took out the dead calf’s body. But the doctors could not save the mother cow also as its uterus had gotten poisoned, leading to its death.
(As told to Animal Welfare Board officials by Dr R P Singh, deputy director of polyclinic at Hingonia Cow Rehabilitation Centre)
Observations in the AWB report
• Increasing mortality rate
• Overcrowded compounds
• Cows fed only once in 24 hours
• Non-availability of green fodder and only dry fodder was given to the animals
• No separation of healthy and sick cows
• Poor disposal of dead cows, dogs often feast on the carcasses
• Lack of proper security measures, only one guard posted at Hingonia during night
• Milk and manure theft by staff
• Mismanagement of human resources, staff leave early everyday
• Poor management of drinking water
• No cleanliness