Thiruvananthapuram: Cow vigilantes pose a threat to Kerala’s plans to achieve self-sufficiency in milk production, the state’s Animal Husbandry Minister said.
The southern state had put on hold its ambitious project to bring 200 Gir cows, a high-yielding species, from Gujarat following apprehensions about transporting them by road because of the reported presence of gau rakshaks, or so-called cow protectors.
State Minister for Forests, Animal Husbandry and Zoos K. Raju said Kerala had planned to procure the Gir breed as part of its efforts to boost milk production.
Not just from Gujarat, but procurement of cows from other states has also been hit hard by the possible threat of mob violence in the name of protecting cows, he said.
“We have not abandoned our plan to procure Gir cows from Gujarat. It is under active consideration. But, we have put it on hold due to the risk of transporting the cows,” Raju said.
Known for their yield, Gir cows belong to the Gir forest region and surrounding districts of Saurashtra region of Gujarat. The ability to withstand hot climates make the high-quality breed a favourite of farmers.
Kerala was planning to procure as many as 200 cows by paying more than Rs100,000 (Dh5,671) for each bovine.
Raju said he had recently visited Gujarat and met the minister concerned to discuss the plan.
“The authorities in the state had responded positively. The availability of cows was also not an issue. Our plan was to go to the villages there and procure cows directly from farmers,” the minister said.
The Gujarat authorities had ensured safe transportation of the cows within the state borders, he said.
“But, we have to travel through other states including Maharashtra before reaching Kerala. It will be very risky to transport the cows through this distance in the wake of reports about the presence of cow vigilantes,” he said.
He said despite the threats, the state wished to go ahead with the project and necessary steps would be taken in this regard soon.
Saying cow vigilantism had hit Kerala’s prospects in milk production, the minister said it should be stopped at the earliest.
“Lakhs [hundreds of thousands] of people are earning a living rearing cattle in the country. The threat from gau rakshaks has badly affected their livelihood. It has also hit the state’s plan to achieve self-sufficiency in milk production,” he said.
The procurement of high breed cows from other parts of the country is essential to achieve the target and depending solely on local breeds would not help do so, the minister added.