Shimla, Mar 4: Cutting across party lines, MLAs in Himachal Pradesh Assembly urged the state government to protect stray and abandoned cows by constructing shelters, prompting Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh to promise steps in this regard.
The issue was raised in the Assembly during the question hour yesterday when members from ruling Congress and opposition BJP said that there was a general tendency among people to abandon the cattle after they stop yielding milk and demanded action in this regard.
Intervening in the reply, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said that "it is an insult to call abandoned cows as 'awara pashu' (stray cattle) and it reflected the sick mentality of the people who abandon the cows when they stop yielding milk".
He regretted that these hapless cattle are ill-treated everywhere and sometimes they get injured or die in accidents. "Their condition is pitiable and the government will protect all such cattle/cows," he said.
When a member said that people from other states also bring stray cattle to the borders and then push them into Himachal, Virbhadra Singh said special 'nakas' (check-posts) will be set-up at all such entry points and strict action will be taken against the persons indulging in such acts.
Most MLAs strongly pleaded for setting-up 'Gausadans' or cow shelters in all 3,226 panchayats, as directed by Himachal Pradesh High Court but the Panchayati Raj and Rural Development minister Anil Sharma said that it was not feasible and a cluster approach has to be adopted.
Replying to question of Bikram Jayral (BJP), the minister said that setting up of Gausadans in every panchayat will involve an expenditure of Rs 80 crore and another Rs 66 crore will be needed for their maintenance.
The government is trying to find some alternatives to deal with the issue and even creating a stray cattle sanctuary will not be a bad idea.
He informed that panchayats have been given powers to impose penalty on the people who abandon their cattle even as MLA Maheshwar Singh asked for punitive steps by enacting a law.