The ruling Congress government in Punjab led by Captain Amarinder Singh has managed to tick off the heads of the gaushalas from Punjab. In an insensitive decision, Congress government has stopped the free electricity provided to these gaushalas, a move which was introduced by the former Parkash Singh Badal led Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party government. This was the only assistance gaushalas used to receive from the government for taking care of the orphaned cows.
Punjab enjoys the reputation of being the highest milk-producer state in the country. The huge number of cattle in the state has led to the problem of abandoned cows after they have stopped producing milk. The only place left for them other than streets are the 512 private gaushalas operating in Punjab. These gaushalas in total house an estimated 3.8 lakh cows. These gaushalas are packed to capacity and still the number of cows roaming the streets is four times the number of cows residing in the gaushalas.
Punjab Gaushala Mahasangh is the group representing 472 of the 512 gaushala trusts operating in the state. The trusts associated with the Punjab Gaushala Mahasangh are holding frequent protests against the Amarinder Singh led Congress government, threatening to let loose the 3.5 lakh cows on the streets. The orphaned cows are not only facing risks to their safety but also pose considerably safety risks for vehicular traffic and pedestrians.
The anger of the Punjab Gaushala Mahasangh and the trusts stems from the fact that the new government has not stopped collecting the cow-cess from the residents imposed by the previous Akali-BJP government.
This unique cow-cess is levied on purchase of four-wheelers, two-wheeler, liquor, cement bags and the booking of air-conditioned hall & non-air conditioned hall. Electricity consumption too comes under the cess purview and a flat rate of 2 paise per unit of energy consumed is charged by the Punjab state government. All these add up to more than 70 crores a year, while the total bill presented to the Gaushalas comes to around 7.2 crore. This has infuriated the Gaushala trusts who want to know where the money earned from the cess is being used. The only help being provided to them till date was the free electricity, the Congress government has also added electricity bills of previous year, retrospectively.
This illogical move has just one intention behind it, undoing the good work done by the previous government. The Congress has got a chance to hurt the religious sentiments of the people and they are not ready to let it go.
Vinay Singh is a Ludhiana based businessman who heads the Krishna Balram Gaushala Trust. The trust operates a cow shelter in Dullon Khurd for around 500 cows.
Upon being asked about this new decision by the Punjab Congress government, Vinay Singh said- “We do gau sewa as part of our religious ethos. We try to bring as many stray cows as we can so they live with dignity. We run gaushalas like old-age homes for cows. But what if we don’t? The stray cattle would become a nightmare for the civic bodies and cause frequent traffic snarls. They wouldn’t be able to handle it.”
We hope the Punjab Congress government realizes the message going out to the public of India through this atrocious ruling from their side. They need to respect the sentiments of all the people who work tirelessly to keep the cows and the roads safe.
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