As the deadline set by chief minister Yogi Adityanath to rid Uttar Pradesh roads of stray cattle expired on Thursday, cow-catchers stepped up their efforts under the supervision of senior state administration officials, but not a single district appeared to have even reached halfway close to the target.
In Gorakhpur, the chief minister’s home town, municipal officials were left staring at the mammoth task of catching 2,000 stray animals on the last day. They managed to catch only 50.
Gorakhpur Municipal Corporation officials said only 600 of approximately 2,600 stray cattle could be caught in the last 79 days. In the absence of a cow shelter, the animals had to be shifted to Maharajganj. Such a facility is being constructed on a nine-acre plot on Gorakhpur’s outskirts at a cost of Rs 1.60 crore, they said.
Kashi misses deadline
An official in the veterinary department of Varanasi Municipal Corporation (VMC), who did not wish to be named, said from clerks to pharmacists to veterinary doctors, all were engaged in the cattle-catching drive.
Fifty-two stray animals were caught on Thursday, he said, adding that VMC’s veterinary department had only two vehicles and required at least five more. “We have a shortage of staff and do not have proper infrastructure,” he said.
Lucknow crosses 1,000-mark
About 60 cattle-catchers caught 1,156 stray animals in Lucknow from January 3-10, an official said. “We caught 123 cows on Thursday, which takes the total to 1,156 stray animals in a week,” he said, adding that some cow-catchers were injured in the process of dragging the animals and herding them into waiting vehicles.
A cattle-catcher said senior officials, including the district magistrate (DM), had personally supervised the drive.
In Bundelkhand region, district officials struggled to catch lakhs of stray animals which destroy 30%-35% crops every year. There were reports of clashes between villagers and officials.
Several government buildings in villages were turned into temporary cow shelters, officials said. The animals were kept even at mandis and in open spaces around overhead water tanks.
Mahoba DM Sahdev was seen personally catching stray animals for the last three days. The district has about 1.56 lakh stray cattle. Sahdev said his team had taken 50,000 animals to 300 temporary shelters.
Workers of Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC) catch stray cattle near old Hanuman Temple at Aliganj in Lucknow on Thursday.
(Subhankar Chakraborty/HT PHOTO)
With Kanpur facing a shortage of space to keep cattle, its closed slaughter-houses were put into use. DM Vijay Vishwas Pant said, “The two closed slaughter-houses of the Kanpur Municipal Corporation in Bakarmandi and Colonelgunj have been turned into shelters. Cows are being shifted there.”
The move has upset the Jamiatul Qureish, an organisation representing the cause of meat-sellers. Dubbing the decision unilateral, it said the administration could not use the Colonelgunj facility as it was a Muslim waqf property.
Officials of Bareilly Nagar Nigam (BNN) struggled to catch stray cattle amid protests from several people. On Wednesday, a group raised a ruckus at Delapeer police outpost and freed 18-20 cows after a team of officials had caught the animals. Similar incidents were reported from other parts of the city.
Municipal health officer Abbas Ali Ansari said, “I have written to the district magistrate and the senior superintendent of police to ask for adequate police forces during the drive.”
DM Virendra K Singh said action would be taken against those trying to create trouble.
Prayagraj shifts focus
Having failed to meet the cattle-catching deadline, Prayagraj district administration officials have shift focus to constructing new sheds, for which the chief minister has given two months’ time.
According to Dheeraj Goel, a veterinary officer at Prayagraj Municipal Corporation, 12 teams had been deployed to rid city roads of stray cattle. “Seven teams from the veterinary department officials are working during the day to catch stray cattle in different localities. Five teams are working at night in the old city areas,” he said.
Prayagraj DM Suhas LY has directed sub-divisional magistrates of all eight tehsils to get one-two gaushalas constructed in every development block.
Claiming that no relief from the cattle menace was visible on the ground in Meerut, Jagdish Singh, head of Chabaria village, said: “All efforts seem to be only on paper. Nothing concrete has happened so far to effectively tackle the problem.”
A farmer of Chilora village, Gopi Chaudhary, said putting up barbed-wire fences to block the entry of stray cattle was not a solution as he only recently buried three cows who starved to death.
Farmers said the state government should come up with a pragmatic scheme to tackle the problem.
Although stray cattle menace in the Braj region, comprising Agra, Mathura and nearby districts of Aligarh division, is among the worst, no major cattle-catching drive was carried out in Agra on Thursday.
First Published: Jan 11, 2019 07:47 IST