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Vasundhara Raje’s plans for cow sanctuary in Rajasthan stuck in rule book

“There are rules for gaushalas, but sanctuary is a new entity for rule book. We are deliberating to find a leeway to get this allotment through,” said a senior govt official.

, ET Bureau|
Aug 31, 2018, 08.03 AM IST
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The govt is studying provisions under which Madhya Pradesh has set up the country’s first cow sanctuary in the Malwa region
A month ago, Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje announced a plan to set up a cow sanctuary in Bikaner with much fanfare, fuelling the ‘cow politics’ ahead of assembly elections. The district administration has identified 221 hectares a land at Napasar, 20 kms from Bikaner, which has the largest cattle population in the state. But the state government is yet to execute the allotment, citing absence of any rule in the Revenue Act for land allotment to a cow sanctuary.

“There are rules for gaushalas, but sanctuary is a new entity for rule book. We are deliberating to find a leeway to get this allotment through,” said a senior official at the revenue department.

The department is also studying provisions under which Madhya Pradesh has set up the country’s first cow sanctuary in the Malwa region, the official added. The administration, however, is in a tizzy. Raje is scheduled to again visit Bikaner on September 6 on her Gaurav Yatra. She may review the progress on the sanctuary as cow protection has become a political issue.

“We are trying to expedite the allotment. We have spoken with the revenue department. There is Section 102 in the Land Revenue Act under which the government may allot land for any purpose without notifying. We expect a decision on this before the CM’s visit,” said Vishram Meena, director of the Gaupalan department, the nodal agency which funds gaushalas.

Meena said the state government had joined hands with a private trust — Sohanlalji Buladeviji Ojha Gaushala Samiti (SBOGS) — for creating this sanctuary. The government will put in Rs 5 crore in the first five years for creating infrastructure of the cow sanctuary that will have water tanks, shades, a hospital, tube wells as well as boundary walls and an open grazing area.

“SBOGS will also step in with a matching fund besides managing day-to-day operations of the sanctuary. The arrangement will be reviewed after five years,” he said.

SBOGS has for long been running gaushalas and currently has 1,800 bovines. “To start with, the cow sanctuary will have 1,000 cows — mostly stray and abandoned ones which are unproductive. It may then go up to 10,000 bovines in due course of time,” Meena said.

Rajasthan is the first state to have a gopalan ministry, dedicated to the protection and development of bovines with a special focus on cow. The minister, Otram Devasi, belongs to the community associated with animal husbandry.

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