BOVINE POL­ICY

Yogi Adityanath now comes up with a ‘cow wel­fare cess’ to fund stray cat­tle shel­ters

India Today - - STATES - By Ashish Misra

When he banned il­le­gal slaugh­ter­houses—a BJP poll prom­ise—soon after tak­ing over as Ut­tar Pradesh chief min­is­ter, Yogi Adityanath per­haps didn’t an­tic­i­pate the im­pli­ca­tions. Two years on, he faces a pub­lic out­cry over ris­ing stray cat­tle pop­u­la­tion caus­ing road ac­ci­dents and de­stroy­ing crops.

The prob­lem is so acute that scores of farm­ers have fenced their hold­ings or shifted to tra­di­tional wheat, paddy and veg­etable cul­ti­va­tion. K.S. Sharma, deputy di­rec­tor in the state agri­cul­ture depart­ment, says more farm­ers are grow­ing sug­ar­cane, which is rel­a­tively safe from for­ag­ing by stray cows and bulls. Ac­cord­ing to him, 2018 saw a 17 per­cent­age point in­crease in the area un­der sug­ar­cane.

In Agra, Mathura, Aligarh, Meerut and Kan­pur dis­tricts, many cul­ti­va­tors have taken to herd­ing the strays into school, hos­pi­tal and po­lice sta­tion com­pounds. To deal with the prob­lem, the Adityanath gov­ern­ment, on Jan­uary 1, ap­proved a new ‘cow wel­fare cess’—1 per cent cess on toll tax, ex­cise duty from liquor sales and mandi fees. “The cess will gen­er­ate ad­e­quate funds to set up cow shel­ters in ev­ery vil­lage pan­chayat, zila pan­chayat, na­gar pan­chayat, na­garpa­lika and na­gar nigam,” says prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary (an­i­mal hus­bandry) Sud­hir M. Bobade.

Of­fi­cials say the Rs 1 crore per dis­trict bud­get for set­ting up cow shel­ters in ev­ery vil­lage pan­chayat is in­ad­e­quate. “Each dis­trict needs at least Rs 4-5 crore to shel­ter all stray cat­tle,” says a dis­trict mag­is­trate from east­ern UP.

The cess will net over Rs 100 crore an­nu­ally. Some of it will be chan­nelled into the Cen­tre’s live­stock ear-tag­ging pro­gramme, which will help track the health of cat­tle be­sides check­ing il­le­gal trade in live­stock.

GETTY IMAGES

A YOGI & A COWMISSAR The CM at a gaushala

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