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Yogi govt mulls ‘cow sanctuaries’ in 30 districts

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government is mulling over setting up “cow sanctuaries” in 30 districts and adding to its existing capacity to keep abandoned cattle, a senior official said on Wednesday.

The move aims at tackling the stray cattle menace, which had snowballed into a major issue in the recently held Assembly polls.

The Yogi Adityanath government plans to provide shelter to 50,000 stray cattle within 100 days of its second term, according to Animal Husbandry Department Director Indramani.

The number will be raised to one lakh in six months, he said.

In addition to “cow sanctuaries”, the capacity of the existing cow shelters will be increased, he said.

“We are going to build sanctuaries in 30 districts in the state depending upon the availability of land, especially in those districts where there are forests,” he said.

“A boundary wall will be erected around them. Besides, there will be provision for water and four feeding spots,” Indramani told PTI.

When asked about the districts where the sanctuaries may come up, he said, “Some of the districts are Unnao, Lakhimpur Kheri, Bahraich and Pilibhit.”

“Our endeavour is that maximum cattle should be preserved,” he added.

The stray cattle menace across UP was a major poll narrative in the recent elections. The opposition parties had prominently raised the issue of abandoned cattle damaging crops.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had promised to solve the problem on a priority basis.

The director said two additional cow sheds will be constructed in the existing shelters.

A stray cattle survey done in UP in 2019 put their number in the state at about 11.84 lakh, officials said.

The state government claims to have provided shelter to about 9.30 lakh stray cattle over the past five years.

The government is working to accommodate the left out cattle.

In the proposed action plan, the state government is also planning to utilise the cow dung of such animals.

Some biogas units are already working in this direction, including the one in Kanpur.

A gobar gas plant has already been established in Varanasi, the director said.

The state government will buy cow dung from farmers to add up to their income.

In January 2020, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had laid the foundation stone of a cow sanctuary in Mirzapur district.

In January 2019, the Uttar Pradesh cabinet had approved a plan to set up and run temporary “gauvansh ashray asthals” under the urban and rural civic bodies to take proper care of stray cattle.

In its first tenure, the Adityanath government had started a scheme to provide Rs 30 per cattle daily to individuals willing to keep abandoned cattle.

Animal Husbandry Minister Dharampal Singh earlier said vacant government land will be used to cultivate fodder for the stray cattle.

“All district magistrates have been asked to identify government land in their districts and remove encroachments from them, if any. The government land will be used to cultivate fodder for cow shelters in the districts,” Singh had said

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