Sharp rise in cattle run over by trains in north India
Tighter cattle trading laws, a crackdown on illegal and unlicensed slaughter houses, and cow vigilantes roaming the countryside and attacking any vehicle transporting cattle, have meant that most farmers end up abandoning cattle that are too old, instead of selling them to slaughter houses.Updated: Apr 09, 2019 08:37 IST
Northern Railway has witnessed a sharp rise in the number of cattle being run over by trains, perhaps because of an increase in the number of stray cattle across the northern plains.
According to data provided by Northern Railway, the number of stray cattle hit by trains increased by 66% in 2018-19. The number was 4,831 in 2018-19, up from 2,906 in 2017-18.
“Cows are roaming in the open because there is no buyer and the promised Gaushalas [cow shelters] are not operational. They are also destroying crops. Farmers chase them out of their fields. Railway lines are near fields, and the cattle go to open areas near the railway lines; some, unfortunately, come under a train,” said Vinay Kumar, the Uttar Pradesh vice president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union.
Two railway officials said, on condition of anonymity, that this does seem to be the case.
Northern Railway comprises the Delhi, Ambala, Firozpur, Lucknow and Moradabad divisions.
Tighter cattle trading laws, a crackdown on illegal and unlicensed slaughter houses, and cow vigilantes roaming the countryside and attacking any vehicle transporting cattle, have meant that most farmers end up abandoning cattle that are too old, instead of selling them to slaughter houses.
There also aren’t as many Gaushalas as needed.
On February 22, soon after it started running, the Vande Bharat Express, also known as Train 18, hit stray cattle and was damaged. The train’s aerodynamic nose, made of steel with a fibre cover on it, was damaged and had to be replaced. According to Indian Railways, there have been cases when cattle hits have caused trains to derail.
“The number of cases have increased because the number of cattle roaming around has gone up and owners are not able to sell them because of a strict vigil [on sales to unlicensed traders],” said Shri Prakash, former member (traffic) of railway board.