Panaji: Stray cattle in Goa's tourism-savvy coastal belt, which includes popular beach villages such as Calangute and Candolim, have "turned non-vegetarian" and only eat scraps of chicken and fried fish, claims the state's Garbage Management Minister, Michael Lobo.
Lobo, who is a BJP MLA from Calangute Assembly constituency, also said that 76 stray cattle from Calangute village, impounded and relocated to a gaushala, were refusing to eat vegetarian food and that specialist veterinarians had been roped in to wean them of their meat fetish.
"We have lifted 76 cattle from Calangute and taken them to the gaushala run by the Gomantak Gosevak Mahasang in Mayem village, where they are being well looked after. We always say cattle are vegetarian. But cattle from Calangute have turned non-vegetarian and do not eat grass, gram or the special cattle feed given to them," Lobo said, on the sidelines of a village function in Arpora village in North Goa on Saturday.
"The cattle from Calangute and Candolim are used to eating non-vegetarian food like leftover chicken scraps, stale fried fish from restaurants. Due to consumption of such non-vegetarian food, their system has become like that of humans. Earlier they were vegetarian, pure vegetarian. They would smell non-vegetarian food and move on, but now cattle from Calangute only eat non-vegetarian food," he said.
"Specialist veterinarians have been roped in by the gaushala to medically treat the cattle with medicine. It will take them four to five days to turn them into vegetarians once again," said Lobo, who is a former deputy speaker.
The beach villages of Calangute and Candolim in North Goa annually receive the highest number of tourists, both domestic and international, and have a high density of restaurants and eateries. The two villages also have a high concentration of cattle, several of which have met with road accidents.
Stray cattle have been a menace on Goa's roads for more two decades on account of factors such as increase in vehicular density, poor lighting on roads, a waning interest in agriculture, fear of cow vigilantes cracking down on 'illegal slaughter' of bovines and errant cattle owners, who abandon the beasts when they are advanced in age and unproductive.
Concerned by the rising number of accidents caused by stray cattle and to combat the menace, the Goa government had even launched a special scheme to address the issue in 2013, which involved providing incentives to village panchayats and municipal bodies to impound stray cattle and fine their owners.