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Atmanirbhar gaushalas, a boost to by-products, and the approval of the Modi government’s care programme for stray cows

The suggested plan by the animal husbandry ministry aimed to reduce conflicts between stray cattle and people, encourage farmers to keep their herd, and give them additional revenue.

In New Delhi: The Modi administration is considering these actions as part of a plan to deal with the stray cattle issue that is rampant throughout the nation, including cow hostels, cow products, encouraging entrepreneurs to start up cow-related businesses, and giving financial aid to organisations working for the welfare of cows.

The Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying’s department of animal husbandry and dairying has applied to the Union government for approval of its “welfare of cows” programme.

According to a senior ministry official, the initiative aims to reduce “stray cattle and human conflict,” encourage farmers to keep their livestock after it has finished its productive life off the streets, and give farmers access to by-products to boost their revenue.

In theory, the minister in question has approved the plan, the official told ThePrint, adding that “in principle approval from the department of expenditure is being secured separately.”

“The scheme’s proposed total cost is Rs 494 crore, which would be paid over five years from 2022–2023 to 2025–2026. The official continued, “Funding will be provided for cow hotels, a park for cattle tourists, and cow goods.”

The initiative, according to the official, aims to “rescue the cow progeny” by using their goods and by-products. The plan will include a technology-based waste-to-wealth conversion component. As a result, it will reduce conflicts between humans and stray cattle while also giving farmers a boost in income.

Many state governments have been kept on their toes by the problem of stray cattle, which has even been a poll issue. For instance, if the BJP takes back control of the state, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath promised in February, ahead of the assembly elections, that the state government will grant Rs 900-1,000 per month to farmers who adopt or care for stray cattle.

50 million abandoned cattle
India’s animal husbandry ministry estimates that there are about 50 lakh homeless cattle (per the 20th livestock census conducted in 2019).

“In quest of food and water, these creatures spend the majority of their time on the road. Farmers cannot sell their animals because the practise is prohibited in 32 states and UTs. There have been reports of both accidents and crop damage. These animals are mostly male and dry cows, according to a ministry letter that ThePrint was able to access.

The message said that due to a lack of funding, both public and private gaushalas (cow shelters) that house homeless animals are struggling to carry out their mission.

Even while some states are offering financial support in this area, it is “showing to be inadequate” in terms of giving the animals food and nourishment, it continued.

Cattle have a 10- to 12-year productive life span, according to the note. Male animals are no longer useful due to mechanisation of agriculture, and unproductive cattle and male animals are a burden to farmers because they are not economically viable.

It goes on to add, “These unproductive cattle and male animals need to be maintained, if not slaughtered or (die) natural death, till the end of life due to public sentiments and religious reasons. During this period also, the animals are to be provided with veterinary care so that the animals don’t suffer from diseases and injuries which also is a costly affair.”

Helping gaushalas and promoting their byproducts
The ministry’s plan calls for encouraging the production of by-products other than milk, like cow dung and urine, which are subsequently used to create a variety of products, in order to make gaushalas self-sufficient.

Organizations are making an effort to produce goods, but the volume is low and they lack marketing support. Additionally, the technique must be used to create cutting-edge goods like Bio-CNG, lignin (an organic polymer), organic fertiliser, etc., according to the memo.

But it emphasises that these sectors are in “extremely basic phases” and require government assistance to market their goods.

In the remark, it is stated that “organisations are making attempts to use cow dung to convert it as Phosphate Rich Organic Fertilizer (PROM) to create organic fertilisers using the same.” This is one example of how by-products lay the groundwork for sustainable companies in this environment.

The suggested programme will be applied throughout India once approved. The beneficiaries of this programme include organisations, research institutions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), gaushalas, individual business owners, trusts or societies, farmers’ organisations, and self-help groups, among others.

“The plan calls for aiding the chosen institutions doing work in the area. Additionally, SC and ST beneficiaries would be chosen in priority in accordance with the rules for the selection of beneficiaries for training cow entrepreneurs, according to a second ministry official.

The source explained that the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), a statutory entity established under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, will serve as the implementation agency for the programme.

“Beneficiaries, like NGOs, will be chosen using the standards established by NITI Aayog in order to get financial assistance from the government. Since it is a central sector programme, the beneficiary will receive the programme funding through AWBI. In order to make its by-products available to allied businesses and (panchayats) to qualify for funds under the scheme, the panchayat system would be pushed to build facilities to keep stray cattle, according to the second official.

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