The Yogi Adityanath government that faced barbs of opposition parties on stray cattle menace has a feather on its cap as it has become the first state in the country to maintain a fodder bank which ensures fodder for the cattle in villages.
“The Uttar Pradesh government not only takes care of the poor people but also of cattle as it provided food to the people as well as cattle across the state during lockdown and unlock periods,” Animal Husbandry Minister Chaudhary Laxmi Narain told The Pioneer.
He said that these banks were ensuring timely fodder to 4,76,353 stray cattle across 5,002 cow shelter homes in the state.
“Fodder is not a problem because of the good harvest we had this time. The only issue is its management and the fodder bank takes care of it to a greater extent,” he said.
Estimates suggest that 5 kg fodder is required per day per bovine. Taking into account the total number of stray cattle in the state, there is a requirement of 23,817 quintals of fodder per day. The government records suggest that between April 1 and May 31, over 16 lakh quintal of straw has been supplied.
“This number has gone up thanks to the good wheat crop this year in UP. The harvesting has been very good which in turn has led to good fodder production. It is available at low price,” the minister said.
The fodder bank primarily is a storage centre where the fodder is procured from farmers and traders. There are around 2,000 fodder suppliers across the state. The fodder is then transported from one district to another, depending on the requirement.
The BJP-led government has earned barbs over death of cows at poorly maintained cow shelters due to lack of fodder and water. The government loosened purse strings to build cow sheds where proper care could be taken of these stray cattle. In the last fiscal of 2019-29, Rs 284 crore were released for construction of gaushalas in 171 local bodies across the state.
Even Gau Sewa Ayog was roped in and it was decided to pay Rs 30 per day to farmers for taking care of cow.
“This (stray cattle) is a big problem and we cannot come up with a solution in one day. There are always teething problems when some project is launched and the government is finding a solution to the problems,” the minister said, adding: “We are successful so far”.
Cow has been a big political issue for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Incidents of lynching have been reported on the name of cow trafficking. Muslims in Uttar Pradesh have stopped rearing cow and the cattle fairs where farmers used to sell their animals are no longer being held in Uttar Pradesh.
The result is that the number of stray cattle has gone up in the village and they destroy crops, leading to tension. In many cases, villagers were forced to lock these stray cattle in school or hospital compounds. Pictures of students studying in open and hundreds of stray cattle resting in school grounds were flashed in the national and international media.