• Elections 2019: The Problem UP’s Farmers Have With Adityanath’s Love For Cows

    Saurabh Sharma

    April 12, 2019

    Image courtesy: Scroll

    Enjoying patronage from the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party government, the population of cows in Uttar Pradesh has soared so much that farmers are becoming increasingly hostile to stray cattle.

    In several belts of the state, farmers have reported huge losses after their crops were raided by stray bovine. The affected farmers are often forced to not only lock up stray cows in government premises but can also be seen charging at them with lathis (wooden sticks) in their hands.

    Jagjivan Dahariya, a Dalit farmer from Kannauj district’s Tirwa town, complains that his potato farm of four bighas was grazed by cows, leaving nothing for him to sell in the market.

    “The sowing season has come to an end. What should we do now? The government has no mechanism to stop this menace. There are many other farmers like me whose crops have been damaged by cows,” he says.

    Stray Cows Being Locked Up

    In Bahraich district’s Dhaukalpura village, 27-year-old Sonu Singh recently teamed up with other villagers to lock stray cows inside a government primary school so that their sugarcane crop could be protected.

    “My family of six depends totally on the yield from our farm, but these days, stray cows have made a mess by destroying our crops,” he says, adding that farmers in his village are spending sleepless nights, guarding their fields against stray cows.

    “The population of stray cows has grown manifold in the state in the past two years. Farmers are poor, they do not have much money to install fences along their fields and the temporary fence erected using thorny Babool tree branches is also not proving to be effective. Therefore, we had to lock up the stray cows,” says the cane farmer.

    Along with lathis, farmers also keep firecrackers with them to ward off the cows.

    Venting anger against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the farmer says, “Yogi ji has never done farming and he does not know the pain of losing crops, whether due to inclement weather conditions or due to stray cows. The villagers even sought help from the police, but what can the police do to keep stray cows away from the fields?”

    Jagjivan adds that nowadays no one wants to buy non-milking bovines, so why should a farmer keep them when the feeding cost is so high?

    “The government should come up with some solution, because this problem is growing day by day. How can farmers shoo away stray animals all the time?”

    Growth of Stray Cattle Population

    There is little statistical evidence to prove that the population of stray cows has grown significantly during the past two years of Adityanath’s rule as work on the 20th livestock census is going on.

    In 2012, according to the last census, there were 10.09 lakh stray cattle in UP.

    In Lucknow, Shree Krishna Gaushala’s Ashish Singh points out that they are running out of space because of the burgeoning numbers of stray cows.

    “We receive close to 30 calls every day from people complaining about stray cattle, especially cows. Our gaushala and most of the cow shelters in Lucknow and other adjoining districts are overcrowded. But we do not have an option other than bringing in the animals.” he says.

    Government Infusing Funds into Gaushalas

    Alarmed by reports of farmers getting outraged with the cow menace, the cow-loving saffron government of Uttar Pradesh had ordered all district magistrates to lock the cattle up in cow conservation centres by January 10. Unlike gaushalas, these centres have a vet to look after sick cows.

    Having imposed a cow welfare cess of 0.5%, the state government now plans to spend over Rs 647 crore in 2019-20 for maintenance of cow shelters.

    In the annual budget presented by state finance minister Rajesh Agarwal last month, Rs 247.60 crore was allocated for maintenance of cow shelters in rural areas and another Rs 200 crore for the upkeep of cow shelters under “Kanha Gaushala and Besahara Pashu Ashram” scheme in urban areas. The remaining Rs 200 crore will be used as tertiary fund.

    A senior cabinet minister of Uttar Pradesh, speaking on condition of anonymity, admitted that stray cows had become a problem for farmers. However, he added that one could now imagine the number of cows that were being illegally slaughtered in the state earlier.

    “The immediate cause of this problem is the government becoming very strict on the prohibition of cow slaughter. To tackle this, the government has allocated money under various schemes and orders have also been given to district magistrates to maintain gaushalas and fill in all the stray cows there,” said the cabinet minister.

    Not just cows, even male bovines are often found to be culprits in farmlands. To control the bull population, the UP government is now trying to ensure that only female calves are born in all the 75 districts of the state.

    Sudhir M. Bobde, principal secretary, animal husbandry department, told Hindustan Times, “We have decided to introduce sex-sorted semen technology-based project in all the districts of Uttar Pradesh to contain the growing bull population.”

    The project was first started by the erstwhile Samajwadi Party government as a pilot initiative in two districts and is now being extended.


    First published in Newsclick.

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