“A cow is lying in my shed with one leg broken. I am ready to give it away for free, but no one is willing to take it,” said Kallesh, a farmer from Singatagere in Kadur taluk of Chikkamagaluru district. Already suffering from a loss with his farm giving him a low yield and finding it difficult to mobilise money for his son’s education, Mr. Kallesh was looking for someone who could relieve him of the burden of looking after his cow.
“Even if I have to look after the cow for another six months, I have to spend at least ₹3,000 every month to provide fodder and water,” said Mr. Kallesh, who had come with a pair of bullocks to the weekly cattle market at Gandasi in Arsikere taluk recently. He was expecting ₹60,000 for the pair, but the buyers were quoting only ₹40,000.
Like him, hundreds of farmers from distant places gather at the weekly market on the APMC yard, close to the highways that connect Mysuru, Hassan, Tiptur, and Shivamogga. Farmers who had been visiting the market for decades pointed out that the number of cattle and buyers had come down drastically after the State government brought out a law against cow-slaughter. The earlier anti-cow slaughter law was relatively more lenient on categories of cattle that could be sold or slaughtered.
“Earlier, it was easier to dispose of sick, aged cattle and male calves. But now it is impossible. Each cow gives birth to more than 10 calves in its lifetime. I have four cows, and the total calves will be more than 40. Do you expect me to take care of all of them?” asked Shambhulinge Gowda of Gandasi. The new law prohibits the slaughtering of cows, bullocks of all ages. Those violating the rule will attract penal action, besides imprisonment of up to seven years.
A newborn calf consumes at least three litres of milk a day, and with that the farmer loses an earning of ₹75 a day. “Taking care of even one calf is a costly affair. We can look after the female calf as an investment,” said Shive Gowda, of Hosur in Arsikere taluk.
The farmers expressed anger against the lawmakers for introducing the new law without estimating its consequences. “Ministers offer gau puja at programmes. Let them stay with me on my farm for a few days and understand the difficulty we face. If there is a pair of cattle, we have to depute one member of the family to take care of them throughout the day. Otherwise, that person would be earning at least 400 a day by going to work in a farm,” said Ramu, of Heggatta in Arsikere taluk.
Saving abandoned calves
Farmers unable to sell newborn male calves in the weekly markets, following the restrictions in the new anti-cow slaughter law, are now abandoning them.
In Hassan district, there have been instances of farmers letting their male calves go free in forest areas. On February 16, a male calf was found abandoned near Joyisara Halli in Channarayapatna taluk. Last month, farmers who participated in the cattle market at Channarayapatna left 32 calves at the marketplace itself. The locals brought this to the notice of the taluk administration, which later rehabilitated them in a goshala in Mysuru. Similar incidents were reported from the marketplace at Gandasi as well.
Minister for Animal Husbandry Prabhu Chavan has announced that two goshalas would be set up in each taluk to provide shelter for cattle abandoned by farmers.
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