Taking forward its publically stated cow protection agenda, the Yogi Adityanath government has now earmarked Rs 816 million in the current fiscal for setting up of new ‘gaushalas’ (cow shelters) in the state.
These government-aided shelters would be established in 68 of the 75 districts of UP. Earlier, CM Adityanath had announced to set up gaushalas in all the districts to house abandoned cows. However, seven districts in the arid zone of Bundelkhand, namely, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Jalaun, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Banda and Chitrakoot are not covered under this budgetary allocation, since they are funded under other schemes, according to an official.
The government has allocated Rs 12 million for each of the 68 districts, while directives have been issued to immediately release Rs 340 million to concerned district magistrates (DM) for carrying out civil works. As per norms, each cow shelter would be spread over an area of over 17,000 sq ft.
UP Processing and Construction Cooperative Federation (PACFED) is the designated agency for carrying out civil works for the proposed cow shelters, UP animal husbandry department principal secretary Sudhir M Bobde told Business Standard.
While, land would be provided by the government, the day to day functioning of gaushalas would be outsourced to the local community and NGOs. There are strict norms for these cow shelters in terms of their format. As per guidelines, each cow shelters would have four animal sheds spread over 14,000 sq ft, fodder storage of 2,000 sq ft, office/medical care/store of 300 sq ft and 6 dwelling units of 1,100 sq ft.
Interestingly, these 68 cow shelters would be in addition to around 500 private-run registered gaushalas in the state. However, these private shelters are also aided by the government through UP animal husbandry department and Gau Sewa Aayog by providing funds for the cattle feed at the rate of Rs 30/per cattle/per day. During 2017-18, the government had provided almost Rs 100 million to these cow shelters for animal fodder.
Meanwhile, a cow shelter ‘Kanha Upvan’ is also proposed at Gorakhpur, Adityanath’s pocket borough, spread over 9 acres. It would be built by the Gorakhpur Municipal Corporation at a cost of nearly Rs 90 million to house about 1,000 cattle. However, no headway has been made in this project beyond the identification of the land. Gorakhpur-based Gorakshnath Peeth, where Adityanath is also the head priest, has a captive cow shelter spread over 2 acres.
Earlier, UP Gau Sewa Aayog had suggested the state home department to facilitate setting up of cow shelters in prisons. It had even sought land from the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) across the state for running cow shelters, but the proposal was turned down by the home department and the PAC, expressing practical impediments in concurring with the suggestion.