The Rajasthan government is concerned about a surge in the demand for cow shelters, and the subsequent costs associated with them, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. Registration applications for least 200 to 300 gaushalas, or cow shelters are pending, according to officials in the state's Animal Husbandry Department. An official said, "We are noticing a trend where some claimants have herded stray cattle and now want to set up a gaushala either on encroached land or a gauchar [land where catle graze]."
In the state, it is mandatory to possess land to register cow shelters under the Rajasthan Gaushala Act, 1960. However, individuals claiming to be gau rakshaks, or cow protectors, are now demanding that state land be allotted to them to set up these facilities. They are also encroaching upon these plots, the reported.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said: "It is a huge challenge for us. It is a fact that the number of these animals has been increasing. There are different difficult demands before the state from various quarters, but the state has finite resources both in terms of land and money."
The state already has 1,606 registered cow shelters with 5 lakh cows and male calves. It provides crores of rupees every year for the upkeep of these animals, especially in famine-hit districts. The Gopalan Department registered 305 such gaushalas in the past three years.
Raje recently met the team looking into the death of more than 500 cows in Jaipur Municipal Corporation's Hingonia Gaushala. The Anti-Corruption Bureau started an investigation into the matter after the animals were left to die after all the 266 contractual workers at the shelter went on a strike on July 21, claiming payment dues. Veterinarians said the animals died because of starvation, and the rains made their situation worse.