Mathura, 2019.01.02 (VT): A week after farmer protests rocked western UP, including Mathura and nearby villages, the state government has decided to introduce 2 per cent ‘Gau Kalyan Cess’ on state excise duty to support rehabilitation of stray cattle. The government assistance in dealing with the problem of stray cattle cannot come soon enough, as the media is filled with reports of private goshalas who are no longer managing to feed their inmates.
While some goshalas manage to collect enough donations, those in out-of-the-way locations often fail to keep up with the cost of fodder. One case that has recently caught media attention is Swami Baba Goshala in Mathura. The management is crying out for help, saying that they are not able to feed the 200 cattle on the premises and the hungry bulls are becoming violent. Earlier this year, 50 cattle in the goshala died due to poor conditions.
Farmers are also distressed by the large numbers of stray cows and say that the damage caused to crops is making farming impossible.
In a meeting held on Tuesday, the state cabinet led by UP chief minister, Yogi Adityanath granted approval for the ‘cow shelter construction and management policy’. The state has already provided Rs 1 billion to the local bodies, with each of the 75 districts getting Rs 12 million.
Apart from the 2 per cent cess on excise, 0.5 per cent cess will be levied on state-operated tolls. Profits made by 8 public sector enterprises and construction agencies (such as UP State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC), Setu Nigam and Uttar Pradesh Rajkiya Nirman Nigam) will also be subject to 0.5 per cent cess.
The one per cent cess on ‘Mandi Parishads’ which contributed around Rs. 170 million to Panchayats annually, has also been doubled.
The revenue will be used to construct temporary cow shelters which will be managed by respective village, block and district-level Panchayats and urban local bodies (Nagar Panchayat, Nagar Nigam, and Nagar Palikas). Each shelter will be equipped to support 1000 cattle.
Committees will be set up at the block, district, divisional and state levels to monitor these shelters.
UP power minister, Shrikant Sharma informed that the initiative will be a coordinated effort by eight government departments, with the Animal Husbandry Department serving as the Nodal Department.
The cow shelters will receive all necessary assistance and services from the Animal Husbandry Department. Proceeds from sale of milk, cow-dung, and compost will be used to make the shelters self-sustaining.
The policy also spells out the rights of police, district and city administration to penalise the abandoning of cattle on roads, public and private properties.