MP budgets Rs 1.6 daily for 1.8 lakh cows in state shelters, department sends SOS

Political experts say BJP government may have lost interest in the programme since Congress hijacked the issue during the party’s tenure in the government.
Cow protection has always been one of the top priorities of the BJP governments in Madhya Pradesh.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Cow protection has always been one of the top priorities of the BJP governments in Madhya Pradesh.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Aug 21, 2020 10:09 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Bhopal | ByShruti Tomar | Edited by Abhinav Sahay

There is not enough money in Madhya Pradesh to feed cows. The state government has allocated just Rs 11 crore or Rs 1.6 per day for feeding over 1.80 lakh cows in government run shelters in the state and the Rs 22,000 received as donation from people is not helping much either, resulting in the department seeking immediate release of additional funds to feed the cows, said government officials.

In the budget for 2020-21 financial year, the state government slashed the allocation of the animal husbandry department to Rs 11 crore from Rs 132 crore in the previous financial year, a cut of 90%, show budget records.

A Madhya Pradesh government official, who asked not to be named, said, “This budget of Rs 11 crore means Rs 1.6 per day only to feed a cow. A steep cut from the Rs 20 per day, per cow, given earlier. Not only this, the first of its kind scheme of inviting people for donation for cow-protection has led to collection of only Rs 22,000 so far and has proved to be a flop show.”

After the failure of the scheme and the reduction in budget, the animal husbandry department, which has been given target to construct 7,000 new cow shelters, has been left in a lurch, said the officer.

“The department’s one month budget requirement for cow protection, which includes running of shelters, procuring cow feed, maintenance of bio-gas plants and vermi compost and other expenses, amount to Rs 11.5 core, but this year the government allocated the total budget of Rs 11.80 crores. With this budget, even if we stopped all other work except providing cow feed, we have just Rs 600 per year to feed a cow in the shelters, which house 1.80 lakh cows,” said another officer who was also not willing to be named.

“In the absence of the budget, we are taking help of NGOs and gram panchayats to run more than 1,300 cow shelters in Madhya Pradesh. The department is facing a budget shortage and we have requested an additional budget of Rs 129 crore from the state government and are hopeful that will get it,” said RK Rokde, director, Animal Husbandry department.

Experts feel that the cow protection programme, always a priority for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government, has now taken a back seat as Congress hijacked the issue during the assembly elections in 2018.

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“The previous Congress-led state government might have failed in fulfilling so many poll promises but they efficiently hijacked the cow issue as far as cow-protection is concerned. The government doubled the number of cow shelters in MP with construction of 677 cow shelters. Now, BJP-led state government is not showing much concern about cows as reflected in announcements of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the budgetary allocation,” said LS Hardeniya, a Bhopal based political analyst.

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Former animal husbandry department minister and Congress MLA, Lakhan Singh Yadav, said, “Just because former chief minister Kamal Nath came up with brilliant plan of cow protection by constructing cow shelters, BJP-led state government lost interest and withdrew the allocation. It clearly shows that the BJP leaders and ministers work only to earn name and fame in the name of cows. They are not really concerned about cows.”

Animal husbandry minister, Prem Patel, said, “We have requested the finance department to release the additional budget and we are very much concerned about cows and their protection. The previous Congress-led state government set a target of 3000 cow shelters and failed to construct even 1000 shelters but we will construct 7000 shelters.”

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Wednesday, December 01, 2021