Gau figure: How garbage has killed about 1000 bovine animals in Rajasthan, a state notorious for cow vigilantism
It's worth noting that Rajasthan is the same state that boasted of the country's first cow welfare ministry.
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Rajasthan is not just a quaint desert state known for its folklore, traditional valour and monuments. It is a state that has also been steadily gaining notoriety for mob lynchings and cow vigilantism.
However, in between all the brutal attacks and mob violence in the name of cow protectionism, guess what has been acting as a slow poison, killing cows one after another in the state?
The surprising — or perhaps, not so surprising — answer is the garbage found on the roads; this, in a state that boasts of the country's first cow welfare ministry.
Waste material, containing polythene bags, plastic material, shards of metal etc., dumped in large mounds of garbage, littered across roads, in open fields and in the slushy, swampy parts of every city and town, has indisputably become the bane for cows in a state where a large amount of funds get allocated for cow welfare.
As per data submitted by the Rajasthan Government in the state Assembly and accessed by India Today, close to 1000 bovine animals, including cows, have died in the last four years due to consuming waste material.
As per district-wise data available with India Today, in four years, 978 bovine animals — including cows — have died due to consuming waste material: 417 in Jaipur, 346 in Sawai Madhopur, 109 in Bundi, 64 in Jhalawar, 39 in Jodhpur, 2 in Dausa and 1 in Kuchaman City.
Holy cow! Where are the gau rakshaks now? (Photo: Reuters)
The state government, however, refuses to accept that these deaths that have been caused by consuming waste material, is its own failure.
"[It is] not the failure of Rajasthan Government. If the people are aware beforehand and the way plastic is being made use of, I believe plastic should be banned in the times to come and ban will be imposed because if something is brought in it and kept outside, then if the cow smells something, then she will consume plastic also alongside. I have the cow welfare department with me and I have seen at several places that when cows are operated upon, then there is 35kg of plastic found inside them. So, it’s a very sad thing. It is not happening from today. Has been happening since plastic was invented," Otaram Devasi, Cow Welfare minister, said to India Today.
"This Government has imposed cow cess on property stamp duty. Despite that, as per data presented in the state Assembly, close to 1,000 cows have died due to consuming waste material," said Dr Archana Sharma, a Congress spokesperson.
Dr Tapesh Mathur, a veterinarian who has worked for the Rajasthan government and in past 17 years has served at multiple urban and rural veterinary hospitals, told India Today, "It is true that the cows die a very painful death due to consuming waste material which gathers inside them. It can attack their heart and can kill them instantly."
Why then, is the government denying its responsibility? These are questions that need to be raised urgently.