Patiala, November 15, 2023: Every year hundreds lose lives, while many others are grievously injured due to stray animals roaming on roads.
Despite collecting crores of rupees as cow cess, the Punjab Government is yet to come up with a policy to tackle the menace of stray cattle on roads and highways of the state.
While the government has announced a compensation plan for the families of victims at the MC level, it is only after a long struggle that a victim’s family gets a claim of Rs 5 lakh as fixed by the local civic body.
“I lost my brother Mandeep Singh in 2019 when while coming home he could not spot a stray animal on the highway and rammed into it. The compensation is too meagre and is only available after long file work and delay,” said his brother Deepinder Singh.
“The recent High Court decision is a welcome step in which the government will have to disperse the compensation amount in a stipulated timeframe,” he stated.
There are over 450 gaushalas in the state that shelter nearly 4 lakh stray cattle. The population of stray cattle has touched nearly 1.25 lakh, while the number of deaths in a year is over 120 in the state.
Despite this, the government is yet to launch any exercise to keep tabs on stray cattle and rehabilitate them in cattle pounds by using the cow cess.
Earlier in December 2022, the government had set up a committee to formulate a uniform policy for providing adequate compensation to the victims of accidents involving stray animals.
The government had also asked the Departments of Local Government and of Rural Development and Panchayats to identify stray animals roaming freely in their respective areas and make arrangements for leaving them in gaushalas.
However, almost a year later nothing much has been done and stray cattle continues to cause accidents deaths and also attack men, women and children in streets.
High Court instructions on the issue:
On receipt of information about an accident due to a stray animal, the SHO shall get a DDR recorded without any delay
The police officer shall verify the claim made and record statements of witnesses and prepare the site plan and summary
The report will be furnished within 30 days of receiving information
A copy of the above report will also be forwarded to the claimant
Punjab Gau Sewa Commission Chairman Ashok Singla said he had taken up the matter twice with the CM. “The plan is to have 20 gaushalas in every district with 20-25 sheds to keep 5,000 head of cattle. This will help us clear Punjab roads of the 1.25 lakh odd cattle roaming on the roads,” Singla added.