At least 500 cows have died owing to starvation over the past five days at Hingonia Cow Rehabilitation Centre in Jaipur.
The agency managing the cattle centre, Shri Krishna Balram Trust, alleged it has not received funds to the tune of Rs 11.84 crore from the Jaipur Municipal Corporation since last October to purchase the fodder, sources told Newsclick.
For the past few weeks, cows were surviving with very little amount of fodder and the number of dying cows began shooting up from 12 February when it rose to 70 and to 72 on 14 February.
The state-owned Hingoniya Cow Shelter hit the news in 2016, when thousands of cows died within a few days during the monsoon.
Radha Priya Das, coordinator from Shri Krishna Balram Trust, alleged the corporation officials were informed about the crisis weeks in advance, but no action had been taken.
“There is no proper dry fodder supply since the past one month as the vendors’ payment has exceeded beyond limit and the vendors have stopped the supply completely from the month of February, and we have been trying to arrange fodder from different sources, but with no success. So we are feeding only the available green fodder and sugar cane,” he said in a letter.
“This is a very serious issue and may lead to mass death of cattle because of starvation and malnutrition…”
The crisis has started hitting employees who allege they not only work under immense pressure but have received salaries in half. Additionally, other benefits like Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) and Provident Fund (PF) are also getting curtailed.
The letter also mentions the distress faced by employees.
“Further, even the labourers who are working in the gaushala are not paid on time because of non-availability of funds from many months and now all labourers are refusing to work, threatening to go on mass agitation. If this happens then the situation will further worsen and we are also not able to comply with statutory compliances like ESI, PF, etc. because of payment delay from JNN.”
Talking to Newsclick, an employee seeking anonymity said the working conditions had only worsened after 2016.
“We work under pressure. There are approximately 700 cows in each enclosure but only 7 to 8 workers are assigned for them. Many male colleagues have received their salaries in half. In rains, the whole gaushala turns into a big pool of mud and it becomes very difficult to give fodder to bovines,” said the employee.
However, Assistant Commissioner of Jaipur Municipal Corporation, Radha Krishna Meena, who is facing suspension after deaths, told Newsclick that the matter had escalated due to local politics.
The payments were stuck in the accounts department. Now, they have been released. The gaushala witnesses 30 to 50 deaths per day and the entire episode unfolded due to local politics.
He also admitted the cow shelter was handling thrice the number of cows than what it was capable of.
“The stray cattle roaming in the city are brought here. It has currently 21,000 bovines. The shelter has 1,600 beegha land. Yes, it is true that despite this much land, many cows roam outside the premises and are prone to accidents.”