Bhopal: India’s first cow sanctuary that was inaugurated with much fanfare by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in September last year in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh has stopped accepting any more cattle because of a paucity of funds and manpower.
The Kamdhenu Gau Abhayaranya, located in Agar-Malwa district, had stopped accepting cows for want of resources like fodder by February, just five months after it opened.
Spread across 1200 acres, the sanctuary was established at a cost of Rs 32 crore and can house around 6,000 cows at full capacity but right now there are just 4,000 cows at the shelter.
Sanctuary head Swami Akhileshwaranad Giri said he had initially demanded Rs 56 crore to run the facility, but the budget barely touched Rs 25 crore. The revised budget estimates prepared by them were also rejected by the state’s finance ministry, he said. The board chairman even recommended setting up of a separate ministry for cows.
Instead, the sanctuary’s administration has been asked to try and get funds from corporate donors, he said. “We have received advice of running the cow sanctuary with corporate help,” he told News18.
He added that the state government cannot run a huge sanctuary such as this and the option of seeking corporate help could be explored.
He said that the funds released by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government so far are not even enough for the maintenance of cows already housed at the sanctuary, so taking in more was out of the question.
Given the BJP’s pitch for cow protection, the shortage of budget at the sanctuary has provided the Congress a chance to attack the state government.
“Cows are nothing but an election issue for the BJP. They talk about gau mata but they don’t take care of their own mothers. The state government offers budget to gau shalas but the cows are even not sent there and still remain present at public places, mostly on the busy roads putting their own and others’ lives at risk,” Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza said.
MP public relations minister Narottam Mishra, however, maintained that state government would allocate additional budget and ensure that nothing hampers protection and conservation of cows.