AAP held its ‘Punjab Bolda Hai’ dialogue with dairy farmers Thursday, with the session headed by its manifesto committee head Kanwar Sandhu.
Sandhu, when asked about AAP’s solution for the stray cattle problem, said, “There is no question of introducing cow slaughter in Punjab. We will aim at streamlining the process to sell cattle to other states and proper certificates will be issued clarifying that cattle is being moved for milk or semen, not for slaughtering. At present, there is no transparency and vigilante groups are harassing farmers even when cattle is sold to other states. AAP understands that certain sections have religious values attached to cows and we have intention to hurt them.”
Asked about how stray cattle will be managed then, he said, “Non-milch and infertile animals will be provided with proper shelters. Farmers expressed that strays damaging their fields. If AAP comes to power, not a single stray will roam on roads or destroy fields.”
It was also proposed that milk and cheese would be included in daily menu of mid-day meals in government schools, if AAP wins in 2017. “It will benefit farmers as well as children. Farmers’ produce will be consumed at local level and students will get nutrition,” said Sandhu.
The farmers expressed concern over harassment by vigilante groups and ordeal they face while getting documents for inter-state selling of cattle. They also rued shortage of vets and complained that government vets also charge for visits. Farmers said that ‘short-term courses should be introduced for farmers to train them for emergencies and reducing cattle mortality.’ “We will also be working on providing loans to small farmers on pattern of Uttar Pradesh. It is currently the largest milk producer in the country. Biogas plants will be setup with shelters to make them economically independent. Cattle in Punjab will be auctioned to other states to reduce losses of farmers,” Sandhu.“Previously known for its milk and butter, AAP aims at bringing back Punjab’s glory. Farmers’ raised valid points that will be included in AAP manifesto. AAP aims at bringing Punjab at least among top three states in India in milk production,” said Chander Suta Dogra, member of AAP manifesto committee.
Other concerns raised by dairy farmers included power supply and milk adulteration. Farmers said they “do not want free power” and were ready to pay for it. “We are not begging for free power but just want uninterrupted supply,” said farmers. Some farmers also complained that government is imposing desi indigenous breeds on them like Sahiwal which are ‘not economically viable’.
Daljit Singh, president of Progressive Dairy Farmers’ Association, having 6,500 big dairy farmers and 28,000 small farmers as its members, said, “Around 1,600 farmers attended discussion with AAP today. We have no comment to make on whether stray cattle slaughtering should be allowed or not. What we want is smooth transportation of cattle sold to other states and immediate FIRs against groups that harass us.”