The newly constituted Cow Cabinet in Madhya Pradesh had its first meeting virtually on Sunday chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Home minister Narottam Mishra, forest minister Vijay Shah, agriculture minister Kamal Patel, rural development minister Mahendra Singh Sisodia, and animal husbandry minister Prem Singh Patel attended the meeting.
"The conservation of the cow is important for environmental conservation. Cow milk (instead of eggs) will be used to improve the health of malnourished children. Cow dung will be used as a replacement for the wood and chemical fertilizer to save the environment. Cow urine will be used as pest control and medicine," Chouhan said in the meeting as reported by The Hindustan Times. He also wished the participants and the public on the festival of Gopashtami dedicated to the worship of cows.
Following the virtual discussion, the CM attended a meeting with experts on cow protection at a cow sanctuary in Agar Malwa district on proper management of cow shelters. "In earlier days, people set aside the first bite of food (go-grass) for the cows, but this tradition is disappearing. So, rather than asking people to set aside the go-grass, we are thinking of collecting money for cow protection by imposing a small tax on people," the CM addressed the public. An additional 0.25% cess shall be levied on products and services as gathered by The Week.
Additionally, the cabinet decided to launch a research institute at Agar Malwa to study products of cow urine, dung and milk. 2000 additional cow shelters to house the 7-8 lakh stray cattle across the state-run by both the government and NGOs have been proposed. Currently, there are 1500 cow shelters in the state which houses 1.6 lakh cows. "Ponds shall be constructed under MNREGA beside shelters and empty forest lands shall be put to used to procure feed for the cows," Chauhan added.
The CM invoked Indian culture and urged the public to use gau-kasht or cow wood to perform last rites and for burning 'Holika' at the Holi festival. He also announced that the cow shelter in Agar Malwa shall be converted to a tourist attraction wherein one could meditate with cows. Interestingly, in the budget of 2019-20 drafted under the Kamal Nath government, 132 crores were set aside for cow shelters which have been cut down in the budget this year to a mere 11 crores.
The Gau cabinet is the first of its kind in the country constituted by the BJP-led government in Madhya Pradesh on 18th of November for the protection and promotion of cows. It comprises six departments including animal husbandry, forest, panchayat, rural development, revenue and farming welfare departments.