Assam Budget seeks to control cattle population

Govt. to ensure 90% calves are females

Assam’s Budget for the 2021-22 fiscal aims to control cattle population through artificial insemination to ensure that up to 90% of the calves born are females and 10% are males.

The proposal follows the tabling of the Assam Cattle Protection Bill, which seeks to ban the transportation of cattle and sale of beef within 5 km of temples and other religious structures of non-beef consuming communities, as well as in areas of mixed populations. Presenting a ₹566.2-crore deficit Budget, Assam’s Finance Minister Ajanta Neog said the government has proposed a scheme to control the birth of scrub bulls up to 20% by procuring “high-genetic merit sex-sorted semen”. The plan is to increase the number of hybrid female caves born in cattle and buffalo farms for higher milk yield.

The proposal for the current fiscal is to cover 50,000 cattle and buffaloes with 1.25 lakh doses of sex-sorted frozen semen sourced from genetically superior bulls. In the Budget, ₹100-crore has also been earmarked for the Indigenous Faith and Culture Department that would be set up with three directorates — Archaeology, Museum, and Historical and Antiquarian Studies — to be subsumed under it. The department is viewed as a bid to revive the indigenous faiths that the BJP-led government said have been facing threats from conversion by mainstream religions.

COVID-19 relief

The Budget has provided for relief of ₹1 lakh to the next of kin of each COVID-19 victim in Assam. The government had earlier implemented a financial and educational scheme for “COVID orphans” and provided a one-time grant of ₹2.5 lakh for “COVID widows”.

“We have allocated ₹40-crore for this financial assistance to families that have lost one or more members to the novel coronavirus,” she said, pointing out that 56 of 4,888 people who died of the infection till July 13 were under 18 years of age.

Small traders and artisans affected by COVID-19 would also be given a one-time grant of ₹10,000 through an institutional mechanism in convergence with a Central scheme, the Budget proposed.

Bridging digital gap

Other proposals include providing “functioning household tap connections” and bearing expenses of electricity dues of 805 tea estates; providing smartphones to Class 9 and 10 students of government schools for bridging the digital divide; and disposing of microfinance loans categorised as non-performing assets with ₹7,500-crore State funds.

The government has also proposed a ‘blue revolution’ through 10,000 village community talks of 1 hectare each for increasing fish production besides allocating ₹1,000-crore for building 1,000 kilometres of embankment cum roads along the flood-prone Brahmaputra and Barak rivers.

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