The Maharashtra cabinet has cleared a proposal to set up a cow service commission to strictly implement a 2015 law to ban beef and take measures for the overall betterment of livestock.
The decision was taken in the state cabinet meeting held on March 17.
The ‘Maharashtra Gau Seva Aayog’ (Maharashtra Commission for Cow Service) will supervise the rearing of livestock and assess which of them are unproductive and rendered unfit for milking, breeding, carrying out agricultural work, etc., said the animal husbandry department official.
The Cabinet has approved funds of Rs 10 crore for setting up the commission, and a draft bill for its formation as a statutory body is likely to be placed before the state legislature this week. According to the official, the state government has estimated that the population of livestock will go up owing to the beef ban.
The cow service commission is being formed by the Eknath Shinde-BJP government on the lines of similar bodies set up by other BJP-ruled states such as Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
“The commission is expected to coordinate with various government agencies to stop non-productive cattle from going to slaughterhouses, which is now illegal under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995, passed in March 2015,” the official said. He said the commission will also monitor all gaushalas (cowsheds) formed to shelter stray and unproductive cattle and has the power to provide them financial assistance wherever required.
The commission will be a 24-member body, and its chairman will be nominated by the state government.
“It comprises 14 senior officers from various government departments, including commissioners from animal husbandry, agriculture, transport, and dairy development departments; a deputy inspector general of police; and nine nominated members who are associated with either cow protection organizations or NGOs involved in running gaushalas,” said another senior official.
He said the commission will not only execute all the existing schemes for gaushalas in the state but will also introduce new schemes and programs for the betterment of the livestock. “The cow commission has also been mandated to take up the cultivation of improved breeds of cattle with the help of gaushalas and launch research schemes to increase local varieties.” “It is expected to take up schemes for generating biogas and power from cow dung and their urine and coordinate with universities and other research institutes that are working in the field of cattle and cattle development, among others,” the official added.