Rising cow vigilantism curbs cattle trade in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana; farmers incur losses due to menace of stray livestock
Farmers have suffered massive losses in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana because the rise of cow vigilantism has also led to a spike in the number of stray cattle that damage crops.
Earlier, dairy farmers would sell their cattle after they stopped lactating, but the rise of cow vigilantism has hampered this sale and purchase
Cattle traders are harassed, and many of them have now stopped the business, the president of a farmers' body said
Bhartiya Kisan Mazdoor Sanyukt Union has pledged it support for the Congress, deriding the BJP's 'anti-farmer' policies
Farmers have suffered massive losses in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana because the rise of cow vigilantism has also led to a spike in the number of stray cattle in villages that damage crops, said president of the Bhartiya Kisan Mazdoor Sanyukt Union, Rajveer Singh Mundeth. He explained that earlier, dairy farmers would sell their cattle after they stopped lactating, but the rise of cow vigilantism in both states has hampered this sale and purchase of the animals.
"There are cow vigilante groups everywhere. They stop vehicles carrying cattle and hand them over to the police. Cattle traders are unnecessarily harassed. Many of them have now stopped the business," Mundeth said.
As a consequence of this menace, he added, many farmers now let their cattle loose after they stop producing milk as they cannot afford to feed them.
"Cattle feed themselves on the crops in fields after they are no longer of use to farmers. This causes massive losses to the cultivators," Mundeth said.
Although there are enough gaushalas (cow shelters) in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, many of them ask farmers for money to keep the cattle, which, according to Mundeth, deters poor farmers from approaching them.
Shedding light on another dimension of the problem, Bhupendra Rawat, a spokesperson for the farmers' union, told Firstpost that the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana does not over the damage done to the crops by the stray animals.
"Although many farmers paid premium for crop insurance, they cannot make claims for the losses caused by the damaged crops. They lose money because they have to pay a premium and also because of the crop damage," Rawat added.
A government statement on this issue with the insurance scheme read: "Under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, a comprehensive risk insurance package is provided to cover yield losses due to non-preventable risks, viz natural fire and lightning, storm, hailstorm, cyclone, typhoon, tempest, hurricane, tornado, flood, inundation and landslide, drought, dry spells, pests or diseases, etc. The losses to crops due to wild animals are preventable in nature and therefore, not covered. Further, due to the involvement of the issue of moral hazard at the time of assessing the loss or risk, insurance companies are, at present, not providing cover for this risk."
As per another press release issued by the government, farmers were paid crop insurance claims amounting to Rs 5.73 crore in the financial year 2016-17 and Rs 5.18 crore in 2017-18 under this scheme.
Interestingly, the Bhartiya Kisan Mazdoor Sanyukt Union — a farmers' rights body that functions in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryana — has extended support to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha election and derided the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance for its "anti-farmer" policies.
In a press statement it issued recently, the union said that in the last Lok Sabha election, the BJP came to power after it promised to give over Rs 15 lakh per head and two crore jobs to the unemployed, clean the Ganga and pay more than one and a half times of the capital to farmers as the price of agricultural produce. Five years have passed, and it's now clear that none of these promises will be fulfilled, the statement said.
Rawat pointed out that one of the biggest "anti-farmer" moves the present regime had implemented was to pass ordinances to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, due to which the rights of farmers over their land are being violated.
"The land acquisition and rehabilitation and resettlement Act saw the light of day in 2013, 66 years after independence. The Act has provisions on fair compensation to those whose land is taken away, brings transparency to the process of acquisition of land to set up factories, buildings, or infrastructural projects and assures rehabilitation of those affected. But ordinances were passed three times to amend this Act," he explained.
Significantly, the ordinances were declared lapsed in 2015 before the Bihar Assembly election.
On the other hand, the union welcomed the minimum income guarantee scheme announced by the Congress in its manifesto. The farmers' said the proposed scheme fulfills their long-term demand for payment for farmers.
"We have long been demanding minimum wages for farmers like any other employee. The scheme will not only benefit small farmers but also the urban poor," Rawat said.
The organisation also demands punitive laws under which action can be taken against public representatives who do not fulfill their poll promises.
"There is no law in India that provides for punishment to public representatives for not fulfilling the promises they made during their election campaigns. But the union wants a change in this and make such betrayal a punishable offence as we feel Indian farmers have been cheated time and again due to the lack of this provision," Rawat asserted.
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