Sumanti Sen is an English Literature graduate who believes "there's just one kind of folks. Folks.".
A 0.5% additional tax has been introduced by the UP government on excise items, which is a “gau kalyan” (cow welfare) cess. The levy has been provided in order to construct and maintain cow shelters across the state.
Besides this, a 0.5% cess will also be levied on public sector enterprises’ profits, construction agencies like UP State Construction and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited, UP State Bridge Corporation Ltd, UPSIDC, toll tax gathered by government agencies, for the purpose.
With the state facing increasing stray cattle problem, in the past week, stray cattle have been locked up in police stations and schools by farmers in order to protest against the menace, in at least three incidents. The problem got aggravated after the government started cracking down illegal on slaughter houses, reported Newsrain.
In order to support the cow welfare and protection scheme, the levy on mandi cess would be raised to 2% from 1%, reported The New Indian Express.
The prices of alcohol may also be affected by the 0.5% excise, however, a meeting will be held by the department to discuss and decide the items the cess will be levied on. MP, MLA and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) funds would be utilised for temporary cow shelters. For management and nutrition of protected cows, enough funds are expected to be arranged by local bodies from their budget, for which Rs 100 crore has been allocated by the CM.
“I’m not in favour of having this cess on alcohol as it will lead to illegal sales. A meeting will be held very soon to discuss which items could be covered under the cess,” Excise minister Jai Pratap Singh said.
According to government spokesman Shirkant Sharma, at least 1,000 stray cattle would be accommodated in shelters in each district, for the construction of which government departments would contribute. Moreover, a penalty would be imposed on those who will let their cattle move into public places and roads.
2017 proved to be a rocky year for UP’s healthcare system, which is already in dire conditions. Despite having fought 2016’s deadly chikungunya outbreak successfully, the encephalitis crisis worsened. In early August, over 70 children died in a government hospital in Gorakhpur, CM Adityanath’s constituency for almost 20 years, after the oxygen supply was cut off due to non-payment of dues to the private supply. The incident sparked international outrage and shed focus on local administrative and medical mismanagement.
Then again, on August 27, 28 and 29, 61 deaths were recorded at the same hospital. In the third such outrageous incident, 49 newborns reportedly lost their lives at a government hospital in Farrukhabad, Uttar Pradesh in one month. Almost a year after the Gorakhpur tragedy, over 70 children have lost their lives at a district hospital in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh, allegedly due to a mysterious fever.
There are so many issues in UP that needs attention and cows can definitely not be the priority there. It is time the government stops their cow-sympathising tactics and focus on the more important issues at hand.
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