The Karnataka government announced on July 15 the establishment of new gaushalas in all districts under the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Act, 2020. But existing gaushalas suffer from financial troubles.
The Observer visited several gaushalas in Bengaluru to understand the situation.Hukam Chand Jain, president of Rishab Kamadhenu Gaushala, said: “We cater to aged cows that are taken away for slaughter but are brought by the police and other people. Hence, we don’t have any dairy business. It’s a pure kindness concept. We faced a lot of problems during the pandemic. The price of fodder suddenly increased during that time.”He explained: “Earlier, our gaushala used to have visitors, but during the pandemic, visitors stopped coming. They used to donate either food or money, but during Covid-19, the gaushala faced a lot of difficulties. We used to sell cow dung to local farmers, but that also didn’t help much.”Asked about the current situation, he replied it is “just OK”. The gaushala is open to visitors. They can spend some time there and feed the cows, he added.
Sampath Sharma, a manager at Sri Shyam Gaushala, said: “During the lockdown, markets were closed and we faced fodder problems. Also, donations were nil as visitors stopped coming.”The gaushala had aged cows who were brought in by the police to be saved from slaughter. The dung from the cows is distributed among local farmers in Bannerghatta.
Naveen Naidu, founder of Bhavani Shankara Gaushala, shared: “Even after the second wave, visitors still fear coming to our place. Right now, we have a few visitors who come sometimes. Fodder price has increased. Increasing fodder price added to our stress.” Gaushalas devoid of visitors indicate that even now, people are skeptical of visiting them. The decrease in the number of visitors has created financial stress for them.
Rati Priya, a resident of the Lalbagh area, shared: “Before the lockdown, my husband and I used to frequently pay a visit to gaushalas. We used to take food for them, but after the pandemic, everything changed. We stopped going.” Another gaushala visitor, Nitin Kumar, said: “My mother is fond of cattle. Back in our village, we used to have cows, but now times have changed. You can find them only in gaushalas. Earlier I used to take her every week, but during the pandemic, I avoided going outside, and therefore stopped donating to gaushalas.”
Gaushalas across the country are reported to be in financial distress. A report in The Times of India said a 136-year-old gaushala in Gaya, Bihar, was hit hard by the pandemic. India Today published report about gaushalas facing a financial crisis as the Madhya Pradesh government was unable to release funds for their maintenance during the lockdown.