Truckloads of fodder to prevent the unfolding tragedy of cow deaths in drought stricken Rajasthan
Sri Krishna Purusottama Dasa: Summers are harsh in the north-west region of India which includes Rajasthan and Northern Gujarat; but in recent years, they have grown harsher due to anthropogenic climate change. While humans have means to cope with rising temperatures, cows are suffering and dying due to insufficient fodder and water. Every day in the summer, hundreds of cows in the Jaisalmer and Barmer districts of Rajasthan die due to lack of water and fodder.
This year, more than 1,00,000 cows have already been lost. The intolerably poignant sight of dead young cows and dried cow carcasses is becoming common in villages across this region. Our team comprised of Dr. Sree Kumar, a veterinary doctor and cow-care specialist, Vamsuli Dasa, an environmental scientist and consultant, and myself, Sri Krishna Purusottama Dasa, North America Coordinator of Om Sri Surabhi Campaign. We travelled to villages across Barmer district in mid-June to personally understand the situation.
In response to the unfolding tragedy of cow deaths, many holy men have come to the aid. His Holiness Sri Pathmeda Maharaja has planted more than 1,000,000 trees to provide green cover and remediate desertification. His Holiness Sri Sri Viswadiraja Tirtha Swami of Pejawara Matha, Udupi has been staying in the Barmer district since nearly a month, raising funds for fodder and urging the local government to provide for the cows. He states that more than 400 starving and weak cows have been moved for treatment and recuperation to the Pathmeda Gau Chikitsalaya, a cow care centre set up at Barmer, Rajasthan.
In the meantime, the Swamiji has collected and distributed around 20 truckloads of fodder to afflicted villages across the region. Fodder has also been donated by NRI donors as well as His Holiness RP Bhakti Raghava Swami, Minister, ISKCON Daiva Varnasrama Ministry – India branch, as part of the Om Sri Surabhi Campaign, a 12-year special focus campaign on cow protection.
We joined Damodar Dulal Dasa, co-minister for Cow Protection, to meet His Holiness Pejawara Swami of the Udupi Math at Mumbai, following our visit to Rajasthan to obtain his blessings and support. Sri Rama Dasa, Asia Coordinator, Om Sri Surabhi Campaign joined us at Ludhiana, Punjab to meet the head of a Bangalore-based company, a pious person who donated 10 truckloads of fodder. We are thankful for their support for cow protection.
After a protest organized outside the local collector’s office in Barmer, the government has announced the allocation of 30 crore INR for the provision of fodder and water. However, dispensation must be swift and fair, since local politics might interfere with or intentionally redirect the provisions selectively. We cannot risk the loss of more cows and must urge for immediate action by the local and state governments to ensure fair, immediate, and sufficient provision of fodder and water across all the afflicted areas.
We must note that it is quite unfortunate that so many cows have died under a central government led by a party which, curiously, is often accused of being biased towards cow protection. In addition to addressing the immediate situation sufficiently, much research and planning has to be done to ensure that it does not repeat. We are carefully and systematically devising a permanent solution to the problem of cow deaths by identifying and addressing the root causes and will soon release a set of recommendations for governments, local leaders, and the herders.