Cow shelters in Uttar Pradesh reel under money, management woes
Money and management problems appear to be troubling two of the biggest cow shelters in Uttar Pradesh.
The Kanpur Gaushala Society, considered the oldest and richest of all the cow shelters in the state, has about 1,200 cows but almost a third of them are ill, say doctors at the facility. The 128-year-old facility hit the headlines last July when it was revealed that 150 cows had died in the previous five months, and at least six of them from alleged starvation.
The society, which is spread over 400 bighas and was set up to take care of stray cows, faced outrage and allegations of siphoning of funds after an autopsy of the cows pointed at empty intestines and urinary bladder – this indicated that the animals hadn’t eaten anything or had water.
Six months on, the situation hasn’t improved much. Staff at the shelter said on the condition of anonymity that the animals were given half of their daily diet – eight kg of hay and 15 kg of green fodder – as the management was busy settling court cases and personal battles. As a result, a third of the animals are said to be sick.
Moreover, the society with properties worth Rs 220 crore has its all bank accounts frozen on the orders of Allahabad high court.
Suresh Gupta, the vice-president of the society, blames a funds crunch and alleges his shelter hasn’t been paid by the state government, or been given a grant. “All the office bearers are contributing each month to keep it going, at other places the state of cows and gaushalas they are nothing short of pitiable. They are in a bad shape,” said Gupta, who is also the secretary of a consortium of all registered 495 cow shelters in Uttar Pradesh.
The government denies this, and points out that it recently hiked the rates it pays to cow shelters for the food of the animals – Rs 30 from Rs 28. Charan Singh, director of the state animal husbandry department, also said that district cow protection committees oversaw the expenditure of these funds. “The government was regularly releasing grants to the registered gaushalas,” he added.
In Lucknow, the government claims to have turned around another big cow shelter after the city municipal corporation took over its operations. Last October, the state administration ordered a probe into the city’s Kanha Upvan after 500-odd cows were reported dead, and ended its contract with a local NGO.
Spread across 60 acres, Kanha Upvan was conceptualised by then mayor of Lucknow and present deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma, and became operational in 2010. It quickly became one of the biggest animal shelters in Asia with a capacity to host 7,000-odd animals.
“Kanha Upvan is a place where a government department has done better than NGO, they have shown if there is a will, the government departments can perform better than private sector,” said state Gau Sewa Ayog chief Rajeev Gupta.
Chief veterinary officer Dr AK Rao claimed the shelter was clean and the death rate of animals down considerably because of the improved standards of food. “We are constructing enclosures to house 2,000 more stray animals,” said municipal commissioner Udairaj Singh.
The NGO, Jeevashraya, refuted this and said it was taking better care of the animals. “We were even providing care to injured animals outside the Kanha Upvan through our special ambulance service. We had a team of four doctors,” said spokesperson Amit Sehgal.
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