Late one evening, Sheela took a quick sharp turn only to slam hard on her brakes; as her car came to a screeching halt, the cow languidly stared at her as it slowly, calmly ambled away…. After muttering a few of the choicest curses under her breath, and then hurriedly admonishing herself for using such words against the ‘sacred’ cow, she restarted her vehicle and slowly drove on. This scene might seem to be lifted straight from a cartoon or comic movie; but it is sadly a common occurrence in even the most congested street in India, the many streets of Vizag included. With amazing dexterity, cars and motorcycles manoeuvre around the gentle animals at top speeds, coming within inches of hitting them. You’d think that honking horns and blasting engine brakes would scare the cattle away, but they just sit there, unfazed, calm and unaffected. They are not scared of the traffic or automobiles. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The vehicles circumvent around the lazily settled animals. In addition to being a traffic hazard, these cattle also add to filth on the roads. Hungry and scouring for food, they dig out leftovers from the trash cans and make a mess.
Many of these cattle belong to ‘urban farmers’ who cater to city folk keen on ‘fresh milk’, which has been milked in their presence. The urbanised farmer callously and shrewdly leaves the cattle on the streets simply because it reduces their fodder budget. The cattle scour the surroundings for green grass (generally non-existent), young plants and trees (woe to the resident who left the gate ajar), and mostly garbage. On a much lesser scale they also get fed by people keen on notching up their devotional quota. And then there are the old cows, which are of no commercial value; mainly because it is forbidden to euthanize them. Hence their ‘benevolent’ owners prefer to abandon them in the streets.
Technically no cattle are allowed in Vizag limits. Threats of rounding them up and charging a fine are redundant mainly because nobody bothers – the municipality hardly ever rounds up the cattle or fine the owners and the cattle owners find the present system highly lucrative and see no need to change. Could there be a workable solution? Can the urban farmers be brought to task for their stray cattle? Will the municipality take an initiative against them? Vizagites voice their views.
Cattle on the road and other public places is definitely a bad sign for a budding Smart City. GVMC and voluntary organisations should take initiative to educate the owner of the cattle and advice him against letting his cattle graze on the roads and greens. In-spite of all the efforts, should the cattle still be found grazing, they should be handed over to the Gosala in Simhachalam.
Dr Nanda Kishore Reddy
A cattle grazing on busy roads is not only dangerous for the vehicles and the traffic in general but is also dangerous for the life of cattle. There’s always a possibility of a speeding vehicle hitting the cattle. I feel the authority accountable for road safety ought to come forward with some stringent laws for those who leave their cattle to graze in an open public area. To begin with, they may consider confiscating the abandoned cattle. If the owner comes claiming for these cattle, impose a hefty penalty and a warning on the cattle owner.