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Blame game in Madhya Pradesh over ‘missing’ cows at shelter

The state has almost 20 million heads of cattle but has struggled in recent months with increasing cases of strays, of which there is no official estimate.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2018 07:49 IST
Monica Pandey
Monica Pandey
Hindustan Times, Jabalpur
Madhya Pradesh,Cow shelters,Missing cows
Madhya Pradesh has a stringent anti-cow slaughter law, but there is little in place to deal with farmers increasingly abandoning their cattle.(File Photo)

After spending almost two years rounding up stray cattle and bovines whose ownership was not clear, municipal officials in Jabalpur are facing a new problem: More than a third of this cattle is now missing.

Out of the 1,770 animals the municipal corporation had housed at a local cow shelter run by the Dayoday Pashu Sanvardhan Kendra since 2016, only 1,013 remain. The rest, civic officials allege, have died of neglect, lack of hygiene and disease.

MP Jain, president of the Kendra, blames a lack of funds and adequate medical support from the government, and says the private shelter, one of 142 he runs across the country, cannot do much.

“We get only Rs 1.50 per head of cattle from the state, whereas we spend around Rs 50 per head of cattle per month. There is no medical facility and we get only hay for the cattle, while we have to procure green grass on our own,” said Jain.

The 17 acre shelter is divided into two wings — one for the cows the gaushala keeps, and the other for animals that were sent by the municipal corporation. A visit to the wings revealed that the former section was well kept while the latter showed a lack of hygiene.

Jain said the shelter spent around Rs 9 lakh a month, collected from donors, for running the place. The donors are supplied fresh cow milk in return.

Jain admitted that most cows died of plastic poisoning but that there was little medical help available.

“There is a government doctor who comes once a fortnight and sometimes even once a month; the work of looking after and tending to sick animals is done by the employees,” he said.

MP has almost 20 million heads of cattle but has struggled in recent months with increasing cases of strays, of which there is no official estimate. The state has a stringent anti-cow slaughter law, but there is little in place to deal with farmers increasingly abandoning their cattle. In November last year, a state government panel had recommended punishment for people abandoning their cattle in the state .

In Jabalpur too, local administration is trying to trace the fate of these cows.

“We are in the process of giving notice to the owners of gaushalas to find out what happened to the cattle. If they are dead, how did they die,” said Sandeep Jaiswal, a municipal officer in charge of catching stray cattle in the region.

Collector Mahesh Choudhary said the administration will bolster medical facilities. “The state government only gives grants and medical facilities, they are not involved in management of the gaushalas. The municipal authorities should give more money if required.”

First Published: Jan 22, 2018 07:49 IST