The Congress-led government in Rajasthan has asked district collectors to felicitate citizens who adopt stray cows on Independence Day and Republic Day, PTI reported on Monday.

The order by the Directorate of Gopalan, dated December 28, said the initiative was aimed at motivating organisations and “charitable and sensitive citizens” to adopt cows.

“The idea behind the step is to conserve cows with cooperation from people,” Vishram Meena, the director of the department, said. “Those who adopt stray cows and undertake welfare activities will be felicitated by district collectors on the occasion of Independence Day and Republic Day.”

The recipients will get a certificate after the adoption is verified by the collector. “There are people who adopt stray animals in cow shelter homes,” Meena told the news agency. “They celebrate their birthdays, wedding anniversaries and such occasions by spending time with their adopted cows. We have asked the collectors to push such initiatives.”

Those who adopt cows at local cow shelters can deposit an amount and visit the cows or take them home if they want to. “As a result of this, the income of cow shelters will also increase and it will also ensure effective upkeep and maintenance of the animals,” said Anil Kaushik, Gopalan department’s joint director of planning, told The Indian Express.

The state, under the previous Bharatiya Janata Party, was the first to appoint a cow welfare minister in India. The minister’s post is currently held by Pramod Bhaya.

In its Assembly election campaign, the Congress had promised to increase grants for cow welfare and provide better facilities for stray cows.