Who is responsible for carcasses of cows and buffaloes?

Stray carcasses with a foul odor is a major issue breathing down our neck. They are carrier of several diseases. It's shameful on the part of their owners as well as authorities to leave these animals to rot, especially after milking them

Diti BajpaiDiti Bajpai   18 July 2019 12:52 PM GMT

Who is responsible for carcasses of cows and buffaloes?

It's a classic case of human apathy. Millions of people are dependent on cattle to make a living. However, these are left to rot after they die and dumping of carcasses is quite rampant across India.

With more than 186 million cattle, India has more of these animals than any other country. It's unfortunate that we still don't have a system in place to give a decent burial to these animals crucial to our economy.

What happens after these animals die?

We put this question to dozens of people in different states. They all nonchalantly replied, "We throw them away".

Ram Kumar Verma, 40, a resident of Harendra Shukla village in Goda district in Uttar Pradesh, has been running a dairy farm for years. He said: "When an animal dies, we call those who de-skin those animals for leather and then they throw their remains on roadsides. These people charge Rs 500 for big animals and Rs 200 for small ones." This has been happening for years.

Carcasses lying in the open are harmful for our environment. "After de-skinning the animals, the remains are thrown on roads or open spaces. Dogs or jackals feasting of them is a common sight. When we request them to bury the remains, they start arguing over non-availability of land in towns or villages," he added.

"Carcasses emit foul smell after 24 hours. They cause diseases like Hepatitis BC, TB, Cholera and Typhoid," said zoologist Dr Anand Singh. For decades, carcasses were the chief source of food for vultures and eagles. But now that they are extinct, decaying animals is a huge problem

Late Dr Salim Ali, a famous ornithologist, in his book on vultures – Indian Birds -- wrote that that vultures could consume a bull in just 30 minutes. But the dwindling number of vultures would eventually affect the food chain.

In India, the livelihood of more than seven crore villagers is dependent on dairy products. These animals are used for milk, meat and also for ploughing. With a production of 176.35 million ton, India has become the world's largest supplier of milk in the past three years.

In our country, the livestock census is done every six years. According to the previous census (in 2012), the number of cows and buffaloes (milk giving and others) was 118.59 million. Thousands of animals die daily and no one is keeping a count.

Animal lovers blame the Department of Animal Husbandry as well as human selfishness for ill-treatment of the animals.

"Humans are selfish. They get attached to things they can benefit from. They, however, are not bothered about what happens to these animals after they die. Their love for animals lasts only till they get something out of them," said Akhilesh Avasthi, local resident of Unnao. He runs a shelter home for abandoned cows and other animals. He added: "JeevJevasyaBhojnam. In other words, animals consume other animals. Earlier, there were many places where dead animals could be dumped. Vultures would eat those carcasses. They were taking care of the food chain. Now that vultures are extinct, these carcasses lie on the road or are eaten by dogs and jackals."

Responsibility of disposing of these carcasses lies with Gram Panchayats and Nagar Nigams. "Leaving carcasses to rot out in the open shows how callous human beings are. The general procedure is that a tender is passed for funeral of dead bodies. The general rule is that they should be buried in an eight-feet deep pit. In villages, the village head informs the contractors, while in cities this responsibility lies with the district medical officer," said Rakesh Shukla, head of the PVC Association at Animal Husbandry Department.

He added: "This is also included in the Swatch Bharat Mission. It was organized in the 14th Finance Commission. However, under MNREGA, the village head has the authority to order digging of holes for funeral of carcasses."

According to the Council of Leather Exports (CLE), the leather industry is worth Rs 573 crores in India. The target is to double the production by 2024-25. Majority of this production is from animals.

Dr Ranveer, a scientist at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly, said: "Their skin fetches good money. Their bones are useful too. Their fat is in demand in the cosmetics industry. Every year, the country earns profit in millions, thanks to them. The government has made a rule for proper disposal of carcasses. However, lack of awareness among villagers and local officials is a major cause for such problems.

Guddu, a trader in Lucknow, said: "Minors in the society are given responsibility of disposing carcasses. Only minors can do such kind of work. We earn by selling skin and bones of animals. We do not get money from the government. However, sometimes people like us have to bribe officials at the Zila Panchayat and Nagar Nigam to get the work done." He also stressed the problem of getting rid of carcasses.

"After de-skinning the carcasses, we dump them wherever we find vacant space. Thereafter, dogs and jackals eat the remains," he said.

A few days ago, a horse died on the main road outside a place of worship in Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh. Its body was lying on the road for many days. "Carcasses emit foul smell due to increase in bacterial count. This bacterial infection reaches humans through contact with house flies and inhaling polluted air. For this reason, it is important to execute proper disposal of carcasses. They should be burnt or buried. For the sake of our environment, the government should build crematories for animals," said professor BD Tripathi of the Environmental Science and Technology Centre in Varanasi.

For proper disposal of carcasses, the Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation has recently constructed three crematories to burn the bodies of domestic animals. It will prevent people from throwing carcasses in the open. Crematories are also being built in Bihar and Gurugram. Patna now has a modern animal crematory at the Waste Dumping Yard in Nagar Nigam at Bariya. Carcasses are disposed of there on a regular basis.

"We have no other choice for disposing carcasses. There is not a single space to dispose carcasses in or nearby villages," said Barati Gautam, a resident of village Salemabad in Barabanki.

Animal lover Akhilesh Awasthi talked about ways to tackle the menace. He said: "Money is not an issue here. One can pay sanitation workers and get these animals buried. But what will happen after 20 years? It's unfair to disrespect these animals. For farmers, they are like their family members. Therefore, for proper treatment of carcasses, the farmers should take the first step.''

Autaar Maurya from Pilibheet, Uttar Pradesh, makes compost from the bodies of the animals. Talking about the procedure, he said: "One of my cows died last year. I dug a four-feet deep hole. Then, I poured about 400lb of cow dung and placed carcass of cow over it. I also poured 25 kgs of salt on the periphery. Afterwards, I poured 10-15 kgs of salt over carcass and then compressed it under soil. I opened the lid after a year and took out the skeleton and the compost. Then I filtered the two. One cow carcass can give you about 600 lbs of compost. It could be used to fertilize soil for cultivating about seven acres farmland."

"It is certain that compost from carcass would be rich in quality for cultivation. When flesh and skin of carcass decompose, it produces quality fossils. It is very beneficial in making rich organic compost," said Dr JP Singh, chief veterinary officer in Pilibhit. Maurya has been practicing organic farming for many years.

Dr SK Dhaka, a senior scientist at the Agricultural Science Centre, also explains the utility of organic compost from the animal remains. He said: "Decayed carcass produce bacteria. It gets composed with cow dung. As a result, it furnishes highly rich organic compost. It provides necessary nutrients to soil. It is very beneficial for cultivation. Compost made from cow remains is rich in beneficial nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, boron, manganese and others. You won't need additional compost. It is a complete organic diet for farming."

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