How Much Will ‘Gau Raksha’ Cost India?
Here’s a realistic projection of how much India would have to spend if the cattle slaughter ban is imposed.
Livestock is an important natural resource for people living in rural and semi-urban areas in India. The animals are used for dairy and farming purposes. Traditionally, once these animals stop being “productive,” they are sold off to slaughterhouses. However in the current scenario, where the slaughtering debate has become a political issue with religious overtones, is it even feasible to do away with cattle slaughter as a whole?
Prohibition of cattle slaughter comes with a huge economic liability. In an interview to The Indian Express, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Hansraj Ahir, revealed that caring for these animals would prove to be the biggest hurdle in the government’s plan to protect and preserve cattle.
Inko paaley kaun? (Who will take care of them?)Hansraj Ahir, Minister of State for Home Affairs
A typical animal weighs around 250-300 kg. Here is a look at the per day cost of feeding these animals.
In order to ensure that farmers, or the common citizen, don’t have to bear the cost of taking care of the animals, the government has proposed to set up “cow sanctuaries” in every state, along the lines of the “Project Tiger” reserves.
The average bovine may live for 14-15 years, but it ceases to be “productive” to the farmer beyond eight or nine years. Let us then examine the cost of keeping and caring for livestock in the sanctuaries, after they stop being productive.
The costs of maintenance and manual labour for these proposed sanctuaries will be over and above the cost of feeding the animals. According to the 2012 Livestock Census, India has a cattle population of 190-odd million.
Based on the years of productivity, around 22-23 million animals would ordinarily be out of the farming system.
An estimated 9.74 million bovine animals were slaughtered during 2013-14, data from the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries reveals. The figures can be rounded up to 10 million in order to account for the unreported (unofficial) slaughters that occurred during this period.
If slaughtering is banned, that means the country is looking at an additional 10 million cattle every year, at an approximate total cost of Rs 22,000 crore to care for them. The question, then, boils down to Hansraj Ahir’s words: “Inko paaley kaun”?
(Read the full report on The Indian Express.)
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