Madhya Pradesh behind BJP-ruled Rajasthan, Haryana in protecting its cows
Madhya Pradesh, which has just announced plans to form a cow ministry, is playing catch-up with other Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states that have taken the lead in promoting bovine welfare.
The government allocated Rs 4.5 per cow (per day) housed in government-run cattle shelters in the state in 2017-18. That’s 50 paise more than the allocation in the previous year.
“The money is not sufficient,” said Madhya Pradesh Gau Samvardhan Board executive committee chairman Swami Akhileshwaranand. The board, set up in 2004, received Rs 25 crore in the 2017-18 budget , Rs 5 crore more than the previous year, to look after 1,53,000 cows housed in 614 functional cow shelters. About half of the 1,296 cow shelters registered with the board have shut down due to paucity of funds.
As per the state government documents, the board utilised the entire allocation. “We need at least Rs 96 crore every year to run the gaushalas (cow shelters)...,” Akhileshwaranand said.
On Sunday, Chouhan announced plans to set up a cow ministry that would replace the Gau Samvardhan Board, in a bid to outdo the Congress in wooing cattle-loving voters ahead of the state elections. CM’s announcement came days after Congress state president Kamal Nath promised to set up cow shelters in every village panchayat for he had been pained by cow deaths.
“Approximately 10% cows die every year in gaushalas due to old age or disease. But there are deaths too due to overcrowding in gaushalas and want of treatment of cows...,” said an official at the Board, requesting anonymity.
Money allotted by the Madhya Pradesh government, the state which claims to have the most number of cows in the country, is less than what some other BJP-ruled states such as Rajasthan and Haryana have provided. State administration have the discretion to allot money on demand to departments that request more funds.
Rajasthan, which has a separate department for cows, allocated Rs 70 per day per cow housed in around 1,600 gaushalas in the 2017-18 financial year. The government set apart Rs 123.07 crore for cows in the budget, which was utilised by the Rajasthan Gopalan Department. Rajasthan levies a 20% cow surcharge on liquor and 10% surcharge on sale of non-judicial stamp papers to fund cow protection.
In Haryana, which has a special police force to protect cows, the state government gave Rs 30 per cow housed in around 380 cow shelters, as per the state government. The Cow Protection Commission allocates money for fodder, construction of cow shelters and other cattle facilities.