Steady progress towards cattle protection
by S V Badri on 07 Jun 2013 4 Comments

The issue of illegal transportation of cattle through Andhra Pradesh has assumed disturbing proportions in recent years. We at the People For Cattle In India have been working at grassroots level to document the extent of the traffic, and the action, and non-action, by police and other authorities in tackling the menace.


Recently, MVR Sastry, editor, Andhra Bhoomi (Deccan Chronicle Group) called some of us to speak to the Minister for Hindu Religious Endowments, Shri Ramachandriah, and Principal Commissioner, Local Administration, YR Krishna Rao.


Thereafter, the Minister called a special meeting on the issue at Hyderabad on May 31, at which senior officials of his Ministry, along with the Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Transport and Local Administration Departments were represented, to chalk out a comprehensive plan to put an end to this menace. The meet was also attended by Swami Svaroopanandendra of Sarada Peeth, Vizag; Sri Sri Sri Vrathadhara Ramanuja Jeeyar; Sri Kamalananda Bharathi; Swamy Svayam Bhagwan Das; and members of some Goshalas in Andhra Pradesh, and other volunteers.


Our group presented a documentary we had prepared last year: “Their Last Journey”. After extensive discussions, the Ministry decided upon some very fruitful steps to protect the cattle wealth of the State (and by extension, the nation).


In a landmark decision, the Endowment Ministry committed to launching one or two Goshalas in each district of Andhra Pradesh. Each Goshala would be created on a five acre plot in order to accommodate the necessary cattle and raise adequate fodder to feed them in situ.


Realising that the Government may not possess the skills to run Goshalas, it was decided that these would be run on the pattern of private-public partnership, with Government providing the land, building, shed and infrastructure, water and fodder. Each lease would be for a period of five years, to be renewed on the basis of the performance of each Goshala.


As Animal Husbandry is listed under the NREGA Scheme, the funds for labour for three months derived from this central scheme at begin with, after which the Goshala could generate its own revenues. The Government plans to provide each Goshala with a Gobar Gas plant to utilize the gobar. Each Goshala must eventually adopt one or two neighboring villages for organic farming and meet some of the power/gas needs of the villages. Once the concept takes off, it will be spread to more villages in a phased manner.


As a beginning, one Goshala will be set up on each on the five routes from Andhra into Tamil Nadu, at the border, to facilitate the easy accommodation of impounded animals, without further compounding their transportation trauma. Cattle from Andhra Pradesh are pushed into Tamil Nadu and thence onward to Kerala on such a vast scale that a huge meat industry and leather industry has spawned around this activity.


One of the ideas mooted at the meeting was that the Endowment Ministry set up a separate Department for Gosamrakshana with minimal staff and an annual budget of Rs 200 to Rs 300 Crores. Besides the internal audit by the Ministry, there should also be an annual external audit by a competent audit firm.


It was felt that besides the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam and Dwaraka Tirumala Goshalas that are run professionally, the Goshalas attached to various temples are not being run professionally. It was felt, therefore, that these Goshalas could be handed over to Hindu organizations and Hindu NGOs for greater competence, and Government could continue to support the Goshalas with fodder and costs.


Dr Venkateshwarulu, Director, Animal Husbandry, offered to expand the services of his department to the private Goshalas and said veterinarians would visit the Goshalas to attend to the animals, take care of vaccinations, medicines.


In the course of the discussions, the Deputy Secretary, Transport, revealed that when regional transport officers catch vehicles with an excess number of Cattle (almost all vehicles are grotesquely overloaded), they are fined Rs. 2500/- to Rs. 3,000/- and let go. The transport department felt there was nothing further that it could do in law.


But the animal activists pointed out that as per sections 96 and 97(1) of Transportation rules, amended (2000), of the Prevention of Cruelty Act, 1960, the department had the power to cancel the license and permits of the vehicles thus caught.


This had a salutary effect on the officials. The Minister of Transports has now called a meeting of all RTOs in the third week of June, to chalk out a programme for thus taking stricter measures to safeguard the cattle.


The meeting also decided to promote Desi cows. The Endowment Ministry has decided that henceforth it will make all Temples accept only Desi cows as daanam. As a beginning, each Temple Goshala will strive to maintain certain specific numbers of the Desi breed, so that those wanting to give Godaanam pay money, obtain receipt and hand over these cows as gifts to the Goshala. This will help to bring back the Desi breed to its exalted position.


The Endowment Ministry will put Flexi Boards in all Temples in Andhra Pradesh highlighting Go-Samrakshana. The movement will be popularized amongst devotees through the distribution of pamphlets on Go-Samrakshana during Temple Festivals and Brahmotsavs of all Temples in Andhra Pradesh.


It was noted that while the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam runs a Goshala (actually a dairy farm), it does not accept cows that are seized (saved from slaughter). The temple rears cows only for milk for Abhishekham (offering) to the presiding deities of their various Mandirs, Ghee for lamps etc.


The activists urged that while this policy should not be tampered with in order to maintain the purity of the temple rituals, the TTD should be requested to start supporting Goshalas that take other animals like buffaloes, male calves, to protect them from slaughter. It could consider running special cattle rescue centres to house these animals. The matter is expected to be placed before the TTD Board in the coming weeks.


The author is a Trustee, People for Cattle in India, Chennai

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