Yogi govt gets going on cow safari, pilot project to come up in BarabankiUpdated: Dec 09, 2019 19:22 IST
The Yogi Adityanath government has begun work on a cow safari project, where it intends to keep between 15000 and 25000 stray cattle.
The cow safari would also double as a one-stop centre for producing and marketing of all cow-related projects and it is also intended to act as a pilgrimage point for Hindus who can have a ‘darshan’ of variety of milch cows at one place, UP’s animal husbandry minister Chaudhary Laxmi Narain said.
The move comes after the not-so enthusiastic response to the state government’s cattle adoption scheme.
The safari would to come up as a pilot project in Barabanki on farm land owned by the animal husbandry department. This is the latest in a string of measures that the government has announced over the last couple of years to deal with the problem of stray cattle.
There are nearly 400,000 abandoned cattle in temporary shelters across the state, say officials of the animal husbandry directorate. As per the 2012 animal census, there are around 19 million (1.9 crore) cows in the state which has 531 registered cow shelters.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has reportedly been briefed about the cow safari project, which is said to be the brainchild of the animal husbandry minister.
The government wanted to involve the department of tourism in the project as well as it was looking to develop the safari also a as centre of religious tourism, an official said.
If successful, the government would then replicate similar cow safaris at other places, officials said. The timeline of the Barabanki safari is yet to be finalised.
“Ideally, this project should be ready and working by 2022 UP assembly polls where the government could market it as an achievement, especially before the rural audience which had been most affected due to the (stray cattle) menace,” a BJP leader from Mathura, who also manages his personal cow shelter, said on condition of anonymity.
“Now, there has been considerable improvement on the issue of stray cattle and the seriousness that government accorded to the matter was one of the reasons why this failed to become an issue in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls despite the opposition parties raising it,” he said.
The Adityanath government had announced plans to protect cows soon after coming to power in March 2017. Since then, it has been grappling with the problem of increase in stray cattle with large number of farmers reporting loss or damage to crops, forcing the government to think of alternatives to control the menace.
Some of these measures include cow shelters, along with cow adoption schemes under which each person adopting a stray cattle, is entitled to a monthly grant of Rs 900 for upkeep of each animal.
In each of the seven districts of Bundelkhand, the government plans to develop a ‘gau vansh vanya vihar’ or cattle shelters, which are to later come up across all the 75 districts. The Anna Pratha prevalent in the region refers to the practice of abandoning cows once they stop giving milk.
On Monday, the state’s urban development department sanctioned Rs 12.5 million (Rs 1.25 crore) for stray cow/cattle shelters in five west UP regions including Baghpat, Baraut, Bhadohi, Gawan and Jamania.
In August, the government had come out with the ‘Mukhyamantri Nirashrit Besahara Govansh Yojana’, a scheme seeking people’s cooperation in protecting stray cattle.
UP has also set a target of getting a lakh (100,000) cows adopted by March 2020 and the scheme is being monitored at the level of the chief secretary.
In October, the government had suspended a district magistrate and four other officials for irregularities of the public fund misuse by reporting inflated figures of the number of cattle housed in cow shelters in Maharajganj. The government has also urged corporate groups to contribute from their CSR fund for upkeep of abandoned cattle.