Ear-tagging stray cattle and fining owners: Will UP govt crack the whip?

The Yogi Adityanath government, which is taking measures to deal with stray cattle menace, is yet to take the bull by the horns and implement the Central government’s ear-tagging scheme for livestock.

The radio-frequency enabled ear-tag is a 12-digit unique identification number, like the Aadhaar, affixed as a yellow tamper-proof tag inside the ear of animals like cows and buffaloes.

The Centre, which launched the scheme two years ago largely to keep the animals in good health and check their illegal trade, has made ear-tagging compulsory and farmers are charged nothing for this.

According to officials, it can effectively deal with the problem of rising stray cattle by identifying and punishing the owners of abandoned cattle.

“The small subcutaneous chip contains the concerning animal’s entire profile like its date of birth, gender, breed, lactation cycle, the amount of milk it gives, the vaccination it requires and has been given, the owner’s name and address, etc,” explained KK Chauhan, a veterinary expert and animal husbandry department official.

Tagging helps farmers and owners identify their animals lost during natural calamities like floods, or when they are stolen or transported illegally within or outside the country. “The tag can tell which district or state the animal belongs to,” Chauhan said.

He did not rule out the possibility of using the ear-tagging system for dealing with the problem of stray cattle in Uttar Pradesh.

“By instantly scooping the details of the owners from the radio frequency identification-based ear-tags, there is every possibility to identify and fine the people abandoning their cattle,” he said.

“The progress is slow but we are implementing ear-tagging as per the national dairy development board’s guidelines,” he said, adding, “Farmers also often do not cooperate as they have some false apprehensions about the ear-tagging.”

“Some municipal corporations, like in Surat in Gujarat and Bhubaneswar in Odisha, are making successful use of ear-tagging system to identify and punish owners of abandoned cattle,” sources said.

“We learn that the Surat municipal corporation, for example, has applied ear-tags with a unique number to cattle, linking the same to the owners’ Aadhaar number. This helps authorities there to identify, trace and heavily fine the owners for letting their cattle loose on the streets and roads,” they said.

After the reports of farmers locking up stray cattle in government schools and hospitals came in from various districts like Aligarh, Agra, Mathura and Kanpur, the UP government announced that it would take action against anyone found letting the cattle astray into farms or on roads.

“But it is not easy to identify the culprits in such cases and the ear-tagging of the cattle can be a handy tool,” sources said.

On Tuesday, the UP cabinet approved a proposal for levying cess on excise items to fund construction and maintenance of cow shelters under all rural and urban local bodies.

The next day, the government ordered district magistrates to ensure stray cattle roaming on roads were put in existing cow shelters by January 10. In many places, the staff was seen having a tough time putting cattle in the vans.

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