Cow fatalities in UP continue with cattle trapped in live wires in Khaptiha gaushala
When Jeetu, the supervisor of the government-run gaushala in Khaptiha Kala village, Banda entered in the early hours of the day, he was met with the sight of dead bodies of cows scattered around the area. “The cows were electrocuted. When a few workers and I came to the gaushala around 7 in the morning, we heard groaning and discovered that the cows were caught in the live wires that were hanging loose from the electric poles. We lost 21 cows in total,” he said.
While the incident took place on the 3rd of January this year, a similar occurrence had taken place during the gaushala’s opening on 20th August, 2019, leading to the loss of the lives of 24 cows. Jeetu expressed his concern at the carelessness of the powerhouse despite having filed complaints about the faulty wiring. “We immediately informed the powerhouse to cut off the electricity after which we informed both the Pradhan and the Tehsildar. In the previous incident, the Pradhan had informed the powerhouse personally. Yet, they paid no heed.”
Spanning 90 bighas in Tindwari Development block, the gaushala houses a population of 649 animals. This gaushala suffers the same tragic fate of several others spread across the state. In the 2019 -20 budget, the Yogi Adityanath led-state government allocated a massive sum of Rs 600-crore for cattle welfare. This included Rs 450-crore for the construction and upkeep of cattle shelters in Uttar Pradesh. However, on-ground realities suggest that the money is not being constructively used and gaushalas are falling into disrepair due to inadequate provisions.”When I asked at the Nagar Palika, I found that 90 lakh was given and all of it has been spent. But in practice, not even 20 lakh has been spent,” says Balram Tiwari, District Administrator, Bharat Kisan Union, Banda.
“Not only are the workers not paid, but adequate food and water isn’t provided to the cows at the gaushala either. The government isn’t doing anything – it isn’t providing money nor arranging for any grain supplies. All the ministers do is roam around in Maruti cars,” says Ramnesh Yadav, a worker in Chitrakoot. Cow fatalities have become a common occurrence in the state, beginning with the death of 35 cows in a temporary shelter in Allahabad in July last year to the death of 36 cows in Ayodhya within a span of two days. While the reported reasons for the deaths range from adverse weather conditions such as lightning and the winter cold, the immediate cause is the trapping of cows in swamps due to flooding which suggests poor maintenance of the shelters.
The District Magistrate of Banda, when asked to respond to the deaths said, “Behind the gaushala is a very old powerhouse with 11000 bolts of light that supplies electricity to the area. What happened was that there was no electricity the previous night, and due to the cold, the wires shrank. Since the insulators of the pole broke due to the pressure, the live wires fell on some of the cows that were roaming around. We have also filed an FIR. We cannot blame the powerhouse because the poles and insulators are very old, and in the winters, the wires shrink, everybody knows that. We cannot point fingers and blame anybody.” The locals, however, do not agree with the authorities and view this to be the responsibility of the powerhouse. Given that this was not the first time that cattle had been trapped in loose wires due to negligence, Jeetu voiced his indignation. “It is definitely due to the carelessness of the powerhouse, if they had taken measures the first time this has happened, so many fatalities would not have occured right now,” he added.
The authorities’ delayed and often poor response to the fatal incidents in cow shelters across U.P has sparked resentment among the locals and gaushala workers. A case in point is Lavlesh Singh’s response, Director, Banda Administration, “We cannot call this (budget mishaps) corruption. I said from the beginning that gaushalas are not enough – we cannot keep them safe there. If we had to ensure the safety of all cows in the state, every village would have to a gaushala which is too large of an operation to execute.” The state of cattle welfare has even got party workers voicing their concern., “This is the responsibility of the Banda district administration. All NGOs and Ministers who helped build the gaushala are equally responsible,” added Anirudh Chandel, Party worker, Bajrang Dal.