Facing flak over stray cattle damaging crops and causing road accidents, the Yogi Adityanath government on Tuesday announced a new policy for temporary cow shelters in the urban and rural areas of Uttar Pradesh.
Following a ban on illegal cattle trade and abattoirs after the Adityanath government came to power in March 2017, the number of stray cattle has multiplied in UP. These abandoned animals not only cause extensive damage to crops but road accidents as well, which have claimed lives and injured many.
Now under the new policy for financing the construction and running of cow shelters, the state government has imposed a 2% cess on excise duty, apart from 0.5% cess on state-operated tolls.
Meanwhile, the 1% levy on the tax revenue of the UP agricultural marketing board or Mandi Parishad, which goes to the state panchayat bodies, has also been hiked to 2% for mopping up more financial resources towards the proposed cow shelter infrastructure.
Besides, 8 state public sector undertakings, including Setu Nigam (Bridge Corporation) and UP State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC) will contribute 0.5% towards the cow shelter scheme from their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) kitty. These decisions were taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Adityanath.
Meanwhile, UP animal husbandry minister S P Singh Baghel said every village and urban center would be provided with a temporary cow shelter, which would be constructed and managed by the respective panchayat or urban local body. He claimed there would be no shortage of funds for the novel scheme.
Mandi Parishad, which earlier used to contribute nearly Rs 170 million to the panchayats annually, would now provide R 340 million with a higher levy. The state has already provided Rs 1 billion in the Budget for each of the 75 districts getting Rs 12 million for the cow shelter roadmap.
Conceding to the fact that stray cattle indeed posed a big challenge in both rural and urban areas with road mishaps and crop damage, the minister informed that work on these cow shelters would be carried out under the ongoing rural employment guarantee scheme. The panchayats and the urban local bodies would be given Rs 30 per animal per month for their upkeep over government land.
As per estimates, every village would give shelter to nearly 1,000 stray cattle, mostly cows, and committees would be set up at the block, tehsil, district, divisional and state level to monitor these shelters.
Earlier, Adityanath had advised people not to abandon their cattle even as he stressed that the government was already working on a statewide network of cow shelters.