The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh is planning to levy a cess to raise money for the welfare of the cow, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said on Sunday.
Addressing a public meeting in Agar Malwa, Chouhan invoked "Indian culture" while speaking about the "gaumata" tax.
"I am thinking of imposing some minor tax to raise money for the welfare of the 'gaumata' (cow) welfare and for the upkeep of cow sheds....Is it alright?" the BJP leader asked while the people replied in the affirmative.
"...We used to feed the first 'roti' (baked in households) to cows. Similarly, we used to feed the last roti to dogs. Such was the concern for animals in our Indian culture which is vanishing now, so we are thinking to collect some small tax from the public for the sake of cows," Chouhan said.
He said a law will be enacted to run cowsheds in the state.
"The society should also help the government in protecting cows. Earlier, agricultural farming was impossible without cows, but tractors have replaced such farming," the CM added.
He lamented that people abandon cows once they are past the prime and stop giving milk.
"Lakhs of cows are wandering on streets. They will get a shelter in sanctuaries," the CM said.
In an apparent reference to anganwadi centres, he said a decision has been taken to provide cow's milk, which is like "amrit" (nectar), instead of eggs to children.
"This move will help cow-keepers and cowsheds to flourish," Chouhan said.
The CM further said cow dung has many applications and can also help in protecting the environment.
"Use of 'gaukasht' (cylindrical pieces made from cow dung) attracts a good rainfall. Make it a point to use cow dung and 'gaukasht' to perform last rites," the CM appealed.
He said 'gaukashts' also save wood and thus environment, and its usage should be promoted in burning 'holikas' during Holi festival.
"We have to save the environment. Urea and DAP fertilisers are like a slow poison. The earth is troubled by their usage," he said.
The chief minister further said cow dung manure acts like nectar for the earth.
"If chemical fertilisers are used for a long time, the land won't produce a wheat harvest," he added.
The chief minister said medicine made from cow urine can heal many ailments.
"Angrezi (allopathic) medicines bring in more diseases. Many such medicines are being made in cow sanctuaries," Chouhan told the gathering.
"...Don't think that cows are redundant. If cows are saved, then the earth will sustain itself. Keep this in mind," he added.
Earlier in the day, the CM chaired the first meeting of the newly-formed 'gau cabinet' (cow cabinet) through virtual mode, during which it was decided to boost the cow- based economy and to set up a research centre for it in Agar Malwa district.
Chouhan also wished participants on the occasion of 'Gopashtami', a festival dedicated to Lord Krishna and cows, his aide said.
The chief minister underlined the need for promoting milk instead of eggs to help improve the health of the extremely malnourished children.
It was decided, among other things, to promote use of cow dung and urine for the well-being of society.
After the meeting, Chouhan flew to 'Kaamdhenu Gau Abhyaranya', a cow sanctuary spread over 472 hectares at Salariya village in Agar Malwa district.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had laid the foundation stone of this sanctuary in 2012.
Chouhan started his day's work by worshipping cows at his residence in Bhopal. He later worshipped eleven cows at the sanctuary and interacted with experts in the field, officials said.
Chouhan had on Wednesday announced the setting up of a separate "cabinet" for the protection and promotion of the cow.
Ministers of Animal Husbandry, Forest, Panchayat and Rural Development, Revenue, Home and Farmers' Welfare departments will be part of this cabinet, said to be the first such body in the country, he had informed.
According to official sources, ministers from the six departments were part of the meeting held on Sunday.
The cow cabinet meeting was earlier scheduled to be held in the sanctuary at Agar Malwa, but the plan was dropped in view of the Covid-19 situation in the state, officials said.