While cow vigilantism is soaring at an alarming rate in the country, cow shelters or ‘gaushalas’ constructed to protect the pious animal are regularly failing to sustain their lives. Around 1300 cows have died in four months in a Tipara cow shelter in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. The cow shelter which has been witnessing the deaths is one of the biggest shelters in the state where injured and sick cows are brought in to be given adequate treatment. Gwalior Municipal Corporation (GMC) is under the scanner being the governing body of the cow shelter.

The authorities have no explanation for the surging incidents of cow deaths. As per a report around six to ten cows die in the shelter on daily basis despite strict instructions and arrangements in the gaushala to ensure protection. The cows that fall sick after eating polythene or other adulterated items are picked from nearby localities and brought to the shelter for recovery. Majority of the dead cows are the ones brought in severe condition after facing an unfortunate accident or being unwell after failing to digest polythene and other inedible stuff.

The GMC workers bring at least 15-18 cows to the shelter daily but not even half of them manage to survive. These cows which are found roaming injured in the town are taken under medical care, but the last four months have seen almost 1300 of them succumb to death. The GMC has assured action into the matter and efforts are being made to reduce the mortality rates. The GMC team have also planned to put regular checks in the shelters and maintain hygienic conditions for safe recovery of the injured cows. Gwalior mayor Vivek Narayan Shejwalkar cited excessive polythene use by the public as one of the major reasons for the deaths.

Use of polythene has been banned in the area but people continue to use the non-degradable bags which are later thrown in open after use and are consumed by the cattle. “Despite a ban on polythene use, people are not giving up its use and one of the major negative impacts is on the cattle,” said Narayan Shejwalkar. The deaths are also to be blamed on the cow owners who let go of the cattle after they become unproductive.

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