Despite levy of Cow Cess stray cattle roams freelyon roads


Despite collection of huge sums of money by levying cow cess on sale of liquor, the stray cattle like cows, buffaloes, bulls, and oxen roam freely on roads. When these animals become unproductive, old or sick, there is a tendency to abandon them rather than be responsible for feeding them. They usually become a financial burden on the owner. The class of cattle which are not economically viable are eventually abandoned.

According to “livestock census data” India has more than 50 lakh stray cattle. These stray cattle roam around and cause a nuisance. They have also become the cause of motor vehicle accidents. They are a threat to human life due to their violent behaviour on busy roads and they cause damage to crops in villages. The garbage dumped in public places which includes plastic waste or non-biodegradable waste poses a risk to stray cattle which feed on garbage for their survival.

Livestock plays an important role in the economy of the hill farmer of Himachal Pradesh. Almos
every household in the State maintains a few heads of livestock of one kind or the other. Once a cow stops yielding milk, feeding and maintenance of the cow becomes a financial burden on the farmer who cannot afford their upkeep due to a lack of resources. As the 20 Animal census has revealed that Himachal Pradesh has 36,311 stray cattle, out of which 20,203 deserted cattle have been provided shelter in various Gau Sadans while more than 8,000 such animals are still roaming freely on the roads.

Protecting and rehabilitating stray animals is not only our moral duty but also our constitutional duty. As per the Article 246(3) of the Constitution of India in List II of Seventh Schedule the Preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal diseases; veterinary training and practice is under State list on which the State has exclusive power to make laws. Further, the Article 48 which is the Directive Principles of State Policy based on the “Gandhian Approach” of the Constitution of India explain that State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.

However, the Animal Welfare Board has issued advisory on stray cattle to all the State Governments/ Union Territories vide a letter dated 12th July, 2018. The Gaushalas has been established to take care of stray cattle. The Animal Welfare Board encourages such organizations by providing grant-inaid for taking care of the animals.

The Himachal Pradesh State Legislative Assembly passed “The Himachal Pradesh Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Samvardhan Act, 2018” which was assented by the Governor of H.P. For rehabilitation and protection of stray cattle in the state of Himachal Pradesh, The Himachal Pradesh Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Samvardhan Act, 2018 (hereinafter to be referred to as an Act) has been enacted to make provisions for solutions to the problems related to stray cattle in the State by providing technical and financial assistance to Gausadans, Gaushalas, Gauvigyan Kendras and Cow sanctuaries. Under the Act Himachal Pradesh Gauseva Aayog, district level committees, SubDivisional level committees, Local Level Committees were formed to ensure the effective implementation of the Act and make provisions for solutions to the problem related to stray cattle in the state and keep each other updated about the same.

After the enactment of the Act in H.P. Question No. 3707 was asked by Sh. Rakesh Singha, MLA, in the legislative assembly, reveals that the total number of 131 Gausadans are existing in the state. A total amount to the tune of Rs. 21,10,46,373/- has been released by Government for establishing/ strengthening / extension of all Gausadans and Cow Sanctuaries in the state during the financial year 2018-2021 and distributed through the Aayog to the Gaushalas and Gausadans. Only 3,12,87,866 has been actually given to Gaushalas and Gausadans across the state towards assistance @ Rs. 500/- per cow. The Aayog also gets funding from cess on the sale of liquor in the state @ Rs. 1 per bottle of Liquor, 15 per cent income of temple trusts, Corporate Social Responsibility and donations collected by public participation and all these sources generate a very high source of income. Even after the robust financial inputs in support of the implementation of the Act on the ground. The reality is far from the perceived results. This shows the incompetency of the government.

Keeping in view the issue a vigilant citizen Mrs Namita Maniktala approached PeRGO regarding this issue to seek legal consultation and for filing a petition against the same. PeRGO provided all the legal facilities without any cost.
Mrs Namita Maniktala filed a Right to Information Application to Himachal Pradesh Gau Seva Aayog and the data received in the reply reveals that still there are hundreds of stray cattle that are roaming in every district of the state. The data received under the Right to Information Act shows that Government is sending amount in Crores for implementation of the scheme. The money is not reaching its end use because in every district still there are hundreds of stray cattle roaming around. The authorities are not taking this matter seriously and ultimately the mandate of the Act is not being fulfilled.

The petition is filed by People for Responsible Governance, Shimla run by a battery of advocates, academicians, law students and vigilant citizens of India. The present petition on rehabilitation, preservation and protection of stray cattle is being handled by PeRGO, a socially responsible organisation which helps to keep in check the work of the government and provide social justice. The petition seeks directions to Gau Seva Aayog and Local Bodies to perform their duties in letter and spirit and remove of menace of stray cattle by their rehabilitation and proper utilisation of funds.


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