HYDERABAD/KARIMNAGAR : New rules close options for a farmer with less productive cattle. Since keeping such cattle is not feasible, the farmer has to lodge them in a gaushala. There are some 250 gaushalas in Telangana for instance, but most are maintained by religious or animal rights groups. Forty-two of these are in Hyderabad. None of them gets state support.
Further, they predominantly care for cows and oxen, although new rules include buffaloes and camels. Would gaushalas be able to accommodate cattle if small farmers are unable to keep them?
The Bhagyanagar gaushala is housed in a six-floor building near the Hussain Sagar. Kamal Narayan Agarwal, president of the Gauseva Sadhan, which manages the gaushala, says the group’s three shelters have 2000 cows, and can care for 3500 more. But he’s all for new rules. “If more cows are abandoned, more gaushalas will come up, won’t they?” Agarwal asks.
But then, if more gaushalas have to be built in villages and towns, the government has to provide land, he adds thoughtfully. Many are managed by religion-affiliated groups. It’s a work of love for most. But is it a love that can lodge many? The cost can be quite prohibitive.
At the Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy temple in Vemulawada in Telangana, authorities spend `56 lakh each year to care for just 120 oxen and 20 cows lodged in its two cattle centres. The temple spends `40 lakh a year on cattle feed alone. Each animal eats 2 kg of feed and 20 kg of hay or grass.
However, these are not necessarily unproductive animals. The oxen are used for some rituals and milk from the cows is used in the temple. The Kodimokkulu, an ox-tying ritual, is an age-old tradition that generates revenue for the temple — 50 per cent of its total revenue in fact.