Several states in India are facing the menace of stray cattle loitering on main roads and highways in recent years. The menace has spread to such an extent that most of the road accidents that take place at night, occur due to stray cattle.
According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in Punjab alone, there was a 38 per cent spike in road accidents in 2016 due to stray cattle. Forty-three per cent of such road accidents involved fatalities. More than 300 persons have died in Punjab in the last two and a half years in road accidents caused due to stray cattle.
Same is the case in Uttar Pradesh. India TV reporter on Thursday night showed stray cattle running berserk in the face of oncoming vehicles on Lucknow-Sitapur highway. Soon after dusk, farmers leave their cattle on highways, causing problems to motorists.
The situation has come to such a pass that policemen in UP, MP and Punjab have started fixing fluorescent light reflector bands on the horns and necks of stray cattle. In UP, policemen in Siddhartha Nagar and Etawah districts were found busy fixing light reflector bands on stray cattle to warn oncoming vehicles at night. This is a time taking process and it is not an easy task to fix light reflector bands on bulls and cows. Fixing of fluorescent light reflectors on stray cattle can prevent road accidents to a large extent, but this is not a permanent solution.
The Centre and state government will have to think over the larger issue of cattle protection and ensuring safe travel on highways. Though the state governments in MP, UP and Rajasthan have made announcements to build gaushalas for tending to thousands of stray cattle, much remains to be done on the ground level.
Official statistics say, there are more than 19 crore cattle in India. Out of this, more than 18 crore cattle live in rural areas, while more than 70 lakh cattle live in urban areas. Both in villages and in metros, farmers abandon their cows on roads after they stop giving milk. ‘Gau raksha’ organisations who have been vocal about preservation of cattle should also think and come up with a reasonable plan to curb the menace of stray cattle on roads.
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