The National Green Tribunal on Monday asked state governments to inform it about measures taken to protect indigenous breeds of cows, PTI reported. A bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim directed state governments to conduct a census to monitor the cows and share information on whether the bovines receive any medical assistance.

“We direct the respondent states to file their statements stating the rate of the indigenous cows diminishing with particular reference to the period of past five years,” the bench said. It also sought information from the states about existing laws preventing the slaughter of cows.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by lawyer Ashwini Kumar who claimed that there was a “looming threat of extinction of indigenous breeds of cattle” in the country. “Even developed countries are taking steps to preserve the diversity in livestock and taking substantial steps to preserve and conserve their domestic livestock species,” the plea had said.

The tribunal had issued a notice to the Agriculture Ministry based on Kumar’s plea, which pushes for a nationwide ban on slaughter of indigenous breeds of cows. The petitioner claims local cow breeds are being replaced by cross-bred varities imported from abroad.

He has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government of being a “silent spectator” to this phenomena of “extinction”.