BHOPAL: A seer-turned-head of state's Cow Protection Board Swami Akhileshwaranand Giri has demanded the formation of a separate ministry for cow welfare by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government to transform Madhya Pradesh into a swarnim Pradesh (golden state).
The 63-year-old seer who turned a sanyasi when just 16 years old and was bestowed with the title of Mahamandaleshwar by the Niranjani Akhara during the 2010 Kumbh Mela in Hardiwar has been heading the MP Cow Protection Board since 2016.
The seer who was elevated to the rank of a cabinet minister by the state government last week only said on Wednesday that he is preparing a proper and detailed draft for backing the demand to create a separate ministry of cow welfare in MP. The draft will be presented at the next meeting of the Board to be chaired by the CM himself next month."If Rajasthan can have a separate directorate for cow welfare (gaupalan nideshalaya), then why can't MP, which houses perhaps the maximum safe cow population in the country, have a separate ministry for the cow welfare. If MP can have a separate Happiness Department, why can't it have a separate ministry for cows," the Swami told New Indian Express.
According to him, while 600 odd gaushalas (cowsheds) supported by the Cow Protection Board house more than 1.53 lakh cows, another 90,000 to 1 lakh cows are roaming on the roads.
"We want to not only focus on the management and care of cows in cowsheds, but also manage the cows roaming on roads."He added that creation of ministry will ensure that it no longer has to rely on the funds released by the Agricultural Mandi Board of the state government, but has a separate budget of its own.
"Presently, our funds are released by the Mandi Board, but we come under the jurisdiction of the Animal Husbandry department, which takes care of all animals and livestock and not just cows. When I was given charge of Cow Protection Board, the annual funds available to us was just Rs 16 crore, but it has gone up to Rs 25 crores now. Two years back each cow in the cowsheds of the state received daily financial support of 60 paise, but now it's gone up to Rs 3 per cow."
"The creation of the new ministry for cow welfare will enable dedicated funds for cow protection, besides funds for creating new pastures for cows and also enabling them to graze on the wide forest area in the state. We also envisage linking cow protection with employment generation in villages by encouraging unemployed youths to take up milk production as business ventures. We're hopeful that the CM will accept our demand and pave the passage for creating a separate ministry for cow," he hoped.
Surprisingly, the opposition Congress too backed Swami Akhileshwaranand Giri's demand for a separate cow welfare ministry.
"We'll welcome the creation of any ministry for cow welfare as the condition of cows in MP is awful," said state Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi.
The minister of state for Happiness Department, Lal Singh Arya said that the Cow Board head should come out with a detailed proposal containing the merits of creating a separate ministry for cow welfare.