UP pushes for cow dung diyas this Diwali, income to be used for cow shelters

3 weeks ago 21
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Amid heaps of cow dung at Lucknow’s Kanha Upavan – a cow shelter maintained by Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC) – many women are busy passing solidified cow waste through a grinding machine to prepare a fine powder.

The powdered cow dung is then processed, mixed with herbal premix to prepare biodegradable lamps which the state’s Gau Seva Ayog or the cow welfare commission intends to promote in the run up to Diwali – a move which it feels could help generate income for 531 registered cow shelters.

Not all of these registered cow shelters are fully functional and the Ayog has ordered a reality check for these animal shelter homes.

The big promotion for these diyas (earthen lamps) prepared from cow dung, would happen just ahead of the festival of lights, when the Ayog plans to light one lakh diyas at Lucknow’s Jhoole Lal Vatika on the banks of river Gomti.

An even bigger push could come at Ayodhya’s Deepotsav.

“If all works out as per our plan, possibly this year we could even have chief minister Adityanath ji celebrating Deepotsav in Ayodhya with cow-dung lamps. We are in talks with Awadh University that organises Deepotsav,” said Shiv Om Gangwar, the officer on special duty (OSD) with the Ayog.

The Gau Seva Ayog, headed by UP BJP veteran Shyam Nandan Singh, has already written to the chief minister, his ministers as well as BJP lawmakers to help popularise cow-dung based products that include idols of Laxmi and Ganesha which are worshipped on Diwali.

The Ayog would send some cow-dung based products, including diyas and idols to the chief minister, his ministers and a few important temples.

“In fact, we have also written to all major temples, trusts and other religious places to use these products which we believe have a great potential in not just generating income for cow shelters but also in ensuring cleanliness. Moreover, being biodegradable, these lamps and idols can also be used as manure after use,” said Singh.

The cost of a cow-dung diya would come around Rs 2, though designer ones would cost more. “The demand for these products is gradually growing,” Singh said.

Sahkar Bharti, a co-operative wing of the RSS, is also engaged in the exercise to promote cow-dung based products.

“Across the state more than 4,000 self-help groups (SHGs) are preparing 3 crores plus diyas while in Lucknow and adjoining districts alone more than 2,000 women are busy preparing not just diyas but festive buntings and various other things,” said Laxman Patra, an office-bearer with Sahkar Bharti.

There are nearly 4 lakh abandoned cattle in temporary shelters across the state, say officials of the animal husbandry directorate. As per the 2012 animal census, there are around 1.9 crore cows in Uttar Pradesh and the Ayog feels that for proper upkeep of animals, cow shelters would have to become self-sustainable. The Adityanath government had also announced a cow safari project in Barabanki which is basically intended to be a one-stop-centre for production and marketing of all cow-related projects.

Around 15,000 to 25,000 stray cattle will be kept at the safari to be developed also as a pilgrimage point for Hindus who can have a ‘darshan’ of a variety of milch cows at one place, UP officials said.

However, the project announced last year is yet to fully take off.

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