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Curbs: Punjab cow shelters stare at fodder shortage

There are around 500 cow shelters in Punjab.

There are around 500 cow shelters in Punjab.  

Those running gaushalas say they would be forced to let them graze outside rather than starve

The nationwide three-week lockdown in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak has posed a grave threat of fodder shortage for several gaushalas (cow shelters) in the State.

Several persons running gaushalas rued that in the absence of proper arrangements they are already facing a shortage of fodder for the cows and if necessary steps to ensure regular supply was not made soon, they would be forced to let cows out of shelters.

“There are around 500 gaushalas in the State; out of these, around 480 are run or managed privately by NGOs or cooperatives, the rest by the government. At least 400 gaushalas are staring at fodder shortage,” said Joginder Pal, president, Gauvansh Seva Sadan in Mandi Gobindgarh.

“We have been demanding that either fodder as an essential commodity should be kept out of lockdown or the government should make arrangements to provide it. If the government doesn’t step in immediately we will be forced to move cows out of shelters for grazing, otherwise they will starve. We have no choice,” he said.

Rajinder Kaplesh, who manages a cow shelter in Sirhind housing around 325 cows, said since the lockdown there has been considerable drop in people who visited the shelter, resulting in a sharp decline of funds. “We run the shelter on donations... hardly anyone is visiting the gaushala these days. This has resulted in financial crunch for us. Also people used to bring green fodder with them to feed cows,” he said.

“Labour shortage is another problem that we are facing. Four men, who were working at my shelter as daily wagers, have gone back to their native places,” he said.

Ravi Garg, who runs Keshav Gaushala in Kharar, near Chandigarh, said limited curfew passes are being issued, resulting in erratic movement of fodder supply. “The government should ensure that vehicles ferrying fodder should not be stopped. Also, in the area surrounding Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali fodder is supplied mostly by private traders. There are no sale points of government agencies, resulting in a price spiral,” he said.

The Punjab Chief Minister had recently empowered Urban Local Bodies in the State to buy medicines and food for urban daily wagers, labourers and poor, as well as fodder for gaushalas, out of the municipal funds at their disposal.

Rajasthan situation

The situation in Rajasthan is not as bad, with farmers helping out those running animal shelters in the remote areas by supplying sufficient quantities of fodder for bovine animals during the present harvesting season.

Radha Gopal, operations coordinator at Hingonia Gaushala near Jaipur, the State’s biggest animal shelter, said there was no shortage of resources at the facility. “We have been distributing 8 to 10 tonnes of fodder every day since the lockdown brought daily life to a standstill,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 7:47:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/curbs-punjab-cow-shelters-stare-at-fodder-shortage/article31274458.ece

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