Constructing gaushalas was one of the electoral promises of the Congress in the Madhya Pradesh elections.
The Madhya Pradesh government will open a thousand cow shelters - or gaushalas - for abandoned cattle over the next four months. The project will cost Rs 450 crore, ANI quoted officer on special duty to Madhya Pradesh Bhupendra Gupta as saying.
Reviewing the Project Gaushala at Mantralaya today, Chief Minister Kamal Nath ordered that the cow shelters be opened at the earliest. This was yet another step towards fulfilling his promises to the people, he added.
While the Department of Rural Development will be the nodal authority for Project Gaushala, it will be run with the cooperation of the gram panchayat; self-help groups; institutions empanelled with the State Board for Conservation of Bovine Animals; and institutions selected by district-level committees.
The Chief Minister said that besides sheltering homeless animals, the project will also provide relief to people in urban and rural areas from stray cattle and ensure employment for the local population. He also wanted to explore the possibility of operating cow shelters on an 'own-operate-manage' basis.
Mr Nath was told at the review meeting that all the 614 gaushalas being operated across the state are privately managed. There hasn't been a single government-run cow shelter so far.
District-level committees headed by collectors will implement Project Gaushala, and sub-divisional officers (revenue) will head block-level committees. The cow shelters will have sheds, tube wells, pasture development and biogas plants, among other amenities. Funds will be arranged through convergence of cash available with panchayats and MNREGA, besides other schemes. The District Committees will earmark the sites.
Mr Nath had begun fulfilling his electoral promises within hours of coming to power. He waived loans of up to Rs 2 lakh of state farmers on December 18 , claiming that the Congress always honours its word.
(With inputs from Agencies)