Yogi Adityanath now comes up with a ‘cow welfare cess’ to fund stray cattle shelters
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.
A YOGI & A COWMISSAR The CM at a gaushala