Unnao Free Ration Dealer Demands 5 kg Fodder From Villagers for Feeding Cows
Lucknow: In a bizarre contradiction to Uttar Pradesh (UP) chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s commitment to providing free rations to people eligible under the National Food Security Act, 2013, a ration dealer in Unnao district has asked beneficiaries to provide five kg of hay (fodder) for cattle in state cow shelters to avail the benefit.
The ration distributor in Naubatpur village, under Safirpur Tehsil, claims to have received instructions from the supply inspector to take five kg of fodder from each beneficiary before distributing rations to them.
“No fodder means no ration no matter from where you arrange” is what the kotedar (dealer) allegedly told the villagers when they demanded their monthly ration.
Villager Kamlesh Kumar, who “returned empty-handed from the shop twice”, submitted a written complaint with sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Ram Sakal Maurya demanding action against the dealer. “More than 80% of the villagers are affected by the dealer’s sudden demand for fodder. He has shown the message of the concerned authority not to distribute ration until beneficiaries give five kg of fodder,” Kamlesh told Newsclick.
“Considering that a quintal of fodder costs anything between Rs 900-Rs 1,000, every cardholder has to give Rs 50- Rs 75 to the dealer for 20 kg of ration,” Kamlesh added.
Kamlesh’s fellow villager Ram Rati had no option but to borrow Rs 500 from her uncle to avail of free ration. “From where will we get fodder when we don’t have land? Instead of running from pillar to post in search of fodder, I gave Rs 500 to the dealer to get ration,” Rati said adding that she paid the amount though the quantity of ration isn’t enough for her family of five.
However, Maurya said that no such instructions have been received but if any dealer is found demanding fodder from beneficiaries, strict action will be taken against him.
This is not an isolated case of demand for fodder to feed cows in the state’s shelters. In a similar case, teachers in Sant Kabir Nagar district were asked to donate one quintal of fodder to feed such cows.
A letter issued by the basic shiksha adhikari of Sant Kabir Nagar, Dinesh Kumar, on May 24 asking block education officers to donate, at least, one quintal of straw for cows caused a furore among teachers.
“The teachers should donate one quintal of fodder as this is an ambitious scheme of the state government,” the letter reads adding that the district magistrate (DM) had asked all concerned departments to “ensure that sufficient fodder is stored in the Mandi Samiti, Khalilabad, as per the allotted target”.
Sant Kabir Nagar DM Divya Mittal finds nothing new in the order as she claims that the practice is prevalent across the state. “This is a voluntary act. We are not forcing anyone to compulsorily give fodder to cows. Orders have been issued to all the government departments to voluntarily contribute fodder for the cows kept in the shelter,” she said.
However, a primary school teacher requesting anonymity said that the letter does not ask for a voluntary contribution but is an order which has to be followed. Principals have been asked to make a list of teachers who will donate fodder, the teacher said.
“After field visits and election duty, we have been asked to donate fodder. Isn’t it funny that a teacher, who should focus on students, has been ordered to donate fodder. There is a scarcity of fodder in villages due to mechanised harvesting. From where will we get fodder?” the teacher asked.
The menace of stray cattle posed a big challenge to the Adityanath government in the Assembly elections. After farmers from across the state raised the issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Bharatiya Janata Party government would find a permanent solution to the problem.
However, the UP government has so far failed to come up with a solution. It had promised a monthly financial aid of Rs 900 per month in 2019 to people who adopt them. The scheme failed as people believe that Rs 900 isn’t enough to feed cattle. In the same year, the state government also imposed a 2% cess on the purchase of beer and Indian-made foreign liquor to create a corpus for cow protection.
As per government data, there are 5,000 temporary cow shelters having roughly 3,00,000 cattle and 92 ‘Kanha Gaushalas’ run by state municipal bodies housing nearly 21,000 cattle. Besides, there are 434 ‘Kanji houses’ (stray cattle houses) which have more than 3,600 cattle—the total number of stray cattle in such shelters is around 330,000.
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