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Posted at: Sep 8, 2019, 7:37 AM; last updated: Sep 8, 2019, 9:42 AM (IST)

Problem of plenty, no solution in sight

Problem of plenty, no solution in sight
Stray cattle roam about on roads, threatening lives of commutersPhoto: The Tribune

Cattle pound, a pipe dream

Bathinda: Stray cattle are posing a serious threat to residents in almost every part of the city. The Municipal Corporation’s project of shifting stray animals to a cattle pound is yet to take off. The authorities say the contractors evincing interest in the project are quoting high prices and the cash-strapped civic body cannot afford that. Incidentally, Bathinda was the first district in the state to impose cow cess.

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Animals are pushed into the cities by farmers who are apprehensive of crop loss. As such, animals roam about on roads, threatening lives of commuters. Those travelling on Bathinda-Chandigarh and Amritsar-Bathinda national highways are at the risk of meeting with an accident, more so in the evening hours. Only last month, three motorcyclists were killed as a herd of stray cattle rammed into them. Some days later, an AAP leader was killed in Mansa in a similar accident.

In the absence of a functional cattle pound, units being run by NGOs could have helped, but they are caught between several issues. Their managements allege that they are not getting any funds from cow cess. Some time ago, The Tribune team had also visited Harraipur cattle pound and found many cattle heads dead. Taking a serious note of the report, mayor Balwant Rai Nath had visited the site and noted that cleanliness was not up to the mark. The site was facing a shortage of labourers as the MNREGA workers assigned the task had refused to clean cow dung. Sick animals had been herded along with the healthy ones, besides other shortcomings. — Sukhmeet Bhasin

Amid conflicting versions, Jalandhar suffers

Jalandhar: Despite deaths because of stray cattle often making news in the city, the authorities seem indifferent. The MC officials put the number of stray cattle in the city at 800, but that seems to be a rather conservative figure. Recently, three people lost their lives near Focal Point on the Jalandhar-Amritsar highway. Two years ago, a six-year-old boy was mauled to death by a stray bull in New Sheetal Nagar. In these two years, not much was done to deal with the stray cow menace. There is no stray cattle pound in Jalandhar, but two branches of a gaushala registered with the MC are running in the city. MC officials say Rs 1 lakh is given to these gaushalas  in Tanda Road area and Bulandpur. However, an employee says they are mainly dependent on donations for running the shelters. The gaushalas sell around 1,000 litres of milk per day at Rs 44 per kg. “Sometimes we earn just Rs 500 a day,” he says, adding that another shed is being constructed where the injured and ailing animals will be kept. — Aakanksha N Bhardwaj

2-wheeler riders most vulnerable in Amritsar

Amritsar: Observing a rise in the number of stray cattle, the health wing of Amritsar Municipal Corporation has recently written to the Commissioner of Police to keep a check on people who leave stray cows in the city. According to estimates, there are 3,000 stray cattle on Amritsar roads. These animals cause traffic jams and accidents, with incidents of furious bulls attacking residents often coming up.

Gopala Dhawan, a researcher who has studied road accidents in the city, says, “Seven accidents have been reported during the last three years due to stray cattle. In these, six persons died and five were seriously injured. Most of these accidents took place on National Highway-54, which is the outer bypass road. One accident took place at BRTS corridor. Most of the victims were two-wheeler riders.” A gaushala promised by the SAD-BJP in 2015 still remains a distant dream. The civic body doesn’t have any infrastructure to keep the cows. The MC has handed over 2-acre land to Durgiana Temple Committee to develop a gaushala on Chabal Road. The committee will construct the sheds and manage the gaushala.  — Charanjit Singh Teja

The biggest killer here

Ludhiana: It isn’t high-end cars, but stray cattle that cause most damage to life and property in Ludhiana. Acknowledging that the sudden appearance of a stray animal on highways had emerged as the single major factor behind majority of vehicular accidents, Kamaljit Singh Deol, manager of an automobile company in Ludhiana district,  says, “Though most minor accidents go unreported, at least 25 per cent of the total major mishaps involving cars are said to have been caused due to stray animals.” The only cattle pound in the city is located in Maachiwara and is managed by Dhyan Foundation. Ajit Lakra, a volunteer with DF, says the pound was taken over by them in 2017. At the time, the district administration had received Rs 50 lakh from the state government. Any funds for the pound are received by the administration and are used to reimburse DF’s monthly bills. Lakra says a major problem is lack of space as many villagers come to leave stray cattle with them. “We can’t accommodate them because of paucity of space.” 

Another issue faced by them is unavailability of medicines. Lakra says people sometimes pressurise them to take in their cattle as they have been paying cow cess. However, he denies any knowledge of the use of funds collected for the development of cattle pounds in the state. He adds that improvement in infrastructure and adequate and timely funds are the need of the hour. — Mahesh Sharma

People take charge in Sangrur

Sangrur: In the wake of the rising number of stray cattle in the city and loss of human life in accidents caused by bovines, people have come together to deal with the menace. They formed an organisation last month and served legal notices on Chief Secretary, Punjab, Sangrur Deputy Commissioner and the Executive Officer of Nagar Council. “In August alone, eight people lost their lives, but the administration is yet to wake up. The deadline of our legal notice expired on September 4. We would be meeting again on September 9 and decide our future course of action,” says Harkesh Sidhu, former president of Punjab of the intellectual wing of AAP.  “Our party leaders have also joined the movement against stray cattle. I know the families of some victims; they are living in utter penury. The children of the deceased do not have money to pay school fee. The government is collecting cess and it must be utilised immediately to save lives,” says Winnerjit Singh Goldy, spokesperson of the Shiromani Akali Dal.  — Parvesh Sharma

In Patiala, four lives lost in a month

Patiala: In the last one month alone, stray cattle have claimed four lives and injured several others in Patiala. Lack of enforcement over dropping of spent cows within city limits has made it tough for residents. There are four animal shelters in the city and the MC has relocated 2,000 stray cattle to these so far; still, the problem persists. An insider tells that cow shelters in the city are full to the brim. “Sometimes, our teams are not able to lift the cattle for months altogether.” Needless to say, families of stray cattle attack victims are aghast and have been holding candle marches demanding that animals be ferried to the pounds at regular intervals. Additional Deputy Commissioner Shawkat Ahmad Parray says that the district administration would be increasing the capacity of the cow shelter at Gazipur village in Samana from 1,200 to 1,600. A court has already summoned the MC commissioner and mayor for hearing on a plea seeking compensation over death of a man in an accident caused by a stray bull last year.  — Ravneet Singh


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