Yogi Government to impose “Cow Welfare Tax” to shelter stray cows

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The Uttar Pradesh government has introduced a “gau kalyan” (cow welfare) cess, an additional 0.5 per cent levy on excise items, to fund construction and maintenance of cow shelters across the state.

The new cess may raise alcohol prices in UP but the department will hold a meeting to decide the items on which the cess will be levied.

Moreover, a cess of 0.5 per cent will also be levied on toll tax collected by government agencies, and on profits made by public sector enterprises and construction agencies like UP State Construction and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited, UP State Bridge Corporation Ltd, UPSIDC, etc for the purpose.

The levy on mandi cess will also be increased from 1 per cent to 2 per cent to support the new state policy.

On Tuesday, the UP cabinet approved a plan to set up and run temporary ‘gauvansh ashray asthals’ under the urban and rural civic bodies in order to take proper care of stray cattle.

The state cabinet meeting, presided by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, okayed the plan and said the cow welfare cess will be imposed for the same, a government spokesman said.

The official said temporary cow sheds (gaushalas) will be opened in all villages, panchayats, municipalities, nagar panchayats and municipal corporations. These cowsheds will be constructed through MNREGS funds, he added.

In every district, both urban and rural areas, a cowshed with capacity of minimum 1,000 animals will be built and for this a total of 2 per cent “cow welfare cess” will be imposed on excise, mandi parishad, profitable corporations and others, he said.

Stating farmers are fast taking the mechanised route, the officials said more and more cattle owners are deserting their animals. He said the new policy will ensure these stray animals are taken care of and concerned departments work with the state government in coordination for better results.

Besides aiding the animal husbandry department, these ‘ashray asthals’ will be working on a self-sustaining model.

Last week, the chief minister had directed the officials to make immediate arrangements for proper care of stray cows.

He had ordered removal of illegal encroachments to pave the way for fresh grazing grounds in different parts of the state.

In a meeting with senior officials, the chief minister asked them to set up a committee to consider measures for providing better shelter facilities to stray cows and directed Chief Secretary Anup Chandra Pandey to be present with recommendations in a week’s time.

Adityanath said in case of encroachments immediate steps would be taken for their removal and strict action will be initiated against the accused.

In another important decision, the state cabinet gave its nod for providing compensation to officials and employees of the state police and fire services in case of disability suffered during the discharge of duties .

Earlier this compensation was extended only in case of death, the spokesman said.

The cabinet also approved a plan to give police station status to ten units of UP Vigilance to expedite inquiry and prosecution in such cases, the spokesman added.

Article is based on inputs from Nelanshu Shukla and PTI for IndiaToday.