Twenty cows, including a few pregnant ones, are in need of immediate shelter in Thiruvananthapuram. A High Court order dated October 28, had asked to shut down a cattle shed (goshala) that is located near the Kuthira Malika palace near the famous Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. HC had ordered Thiruvananthapuram Corporation to take immediate action within two weeks of the judgement.
The statement submitted by Corporation in the High Court says, "Cattle shed is kept in most unhygienic manner. The roof of the shed is made of tarpaulin and there are 38 cows (now down to 20 after some were relocated) including calves in the shed. The shed is unauthorised and managed by a private trust. No statutory licence has been obtained by the trust. The cattle shed poses health hazards and is also a nuisance to the general public because of the unhygienic condition."
Agreeing to the statement, the court ordered the Corporation to take immediate action to close down the goshala. However, no action has been taken yet to relocate the cows.
TNM had earlier reported about the pathetic plight of the cows in the goshala as they were not given enough food by the private trust named Sree Padmanabha Swamy Goshala Trust, in which actor and BJP MP Suresh Gopi and a few other film actors are members.
A few of the locals and some organisations had protested in July, as most of the cows were found to be malnourished without proper feeding. It was then that the government intervened in the issue and sent a notice to the trust asking them to feed the cows.
In July, a calf died in the goshala due an attack by a dog, following which the locals noticed the condition of the shed. "They were not given grass, hay or proper feed. The condition of the shed was pathetic. That is when people started protesting," advocate RS Vijay Mohan, secretary of the Paithruka Samrakshana Samithi (a heritage conservation committee), tells TNM.
Following the protests, State Minister of Tourism and Devaswom Kadakampally Surendran, and State Minister of Forests, Wildlife Protection and Animal Husbandry K Raju, visited the shed.
The ministers had assured that proper action would be taken to ensure the safety of the animals. Minister K Raju said a case for animal cruelty will be taken against the trust.
However, since no further action was taken by the government, Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple trust approached the High Court seeking closure of the goshala as it didn’t maintain the required standards.
But the unhygienic conditions persisted and a few organisations started feeding the cows. Paithruka Samrakshana Samithi, The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), and a few other organisations also contribute in taking care of these cows.
"None of the Goshala trust members visited the trust or ensured protection of the cows. They relocated a few cows to some other farm and 20 are remaining now. A few among them are pregnant too. After it became a controversy, the cows were abandoned totally. We, along with some other organisations, took up the mission of feeding the cows," Vijay Mohan says.
He adds that at least Rs 2000 is needed daily to take care of the cows, which they struggle to make.
“For five months, we managed but we are struggling now to arrange for the funds. This is a small place and so many cows cannot be kept here. They need to be immediately relocated and taken care of," he said.
"As per the rule, one cent (435 square feet) of land is needed to keep one cow. They require other facilities too. The shed is not secure, dogs and rodents enter the shed easily," Vijay Mohan says.
Locals say that cows are still in a pathetic state. "They are provided with some cattle feed and water. Grass and hay are not provided though it is necessary for cows. The shed is made of tarpaulin which doesn’t provide adequate shelter. During the day, the animals have to bear the heat and during rains, they get wet too," says a person who lived near Kuthira Malika.
As the land is owned by the royal family and there is an HC order for closure, the goshala cannot function hereafter.
The cowshed is situated on the land owned by Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. The goshala trust established the shed with the permission of the then head of the Travancore royal family, Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, 10 years ago. It was started to provide good quality milk to the temple for its rituals. Currently, the temple has its own goshala.
Photos: Sreekesh Raveendran Nair