Mumbai: Cow menace leaves Khar residents fuming
Khar residents have been hopping, skipping and slipping around cow dung blobs owing to a local milk vendor tethering them around in public places for close to a decade
Khar residents, who have been dealing with the cow menace in their area for years, are keen on getting rid of it soon. At least 10 cows occupy the footpaths of 4th Road in Khar and apart from blocking access to pedestrians, many people have slipped over cow dung, while shop owners have suffered losses due to the unhygienic condition of the road.
Local residents said that a local milk vendor has been keeping around 20 cows tethered to road signs and lamp posts on the footpaths near Khar railway station for almost a decade now. Naresh Ahuja, a local resident, said that the milk vendor doesn't even take care of the animals. "He doesn't feed them. The cows eat rotten vegetables that are dumped on the roadsides. It is a horrible experience to manoeuvre around the mounds of cow dung every morning, and especially so for senior citizens," he said.
Mona Irani, 68, is one of many locals who have slipped over a fresh mound of cow dung. Irani suffered a back injury around two weeks ago. While she sympathises with the cows, she strongly feels that footpaths are not the place for them. "I was walking on the footpath and didn't notice the fresh cow dung. I slipped and fell. I hurt my back badly and was on bed rest for two days," she said.
Cows mistreated by owner
According to civic rules, it is illegal to keep cows tethered to poles on roads and footpaths. If cows are found wandering or tied up in public places, they are seized by pound officers and cattle owners and a fine of Rs 2,500 per animal is levied.
Residents said that not only does the local vendor not feed the cows properly, he also mistreats them. Ishwar Chotrani has been living on 4th Road for more than 40 years and has often seen the vendor inject the cows with something. "They tie the cows' legs and give them injections out in the open. The cows keep screaming but the workers don't care. They don't the area clean either and there is a stench throughout the day," said Chotrani. He added that at night, the cows sit in the middle of the road causing traffic jams and parking troubles.
Apart from the residents, owners of commercial spaces have also been affected. Rajeev Punwani, owner of Maiz Kitchen had to convert to a delivery-only place due to the unhygienic look of the street. "Many of us have suffered losses in business because the animals defecate and urinate on the road and footpath all day. People have slipped while walking and bikers have lost control of their vehicles," he said. He added that the vendor even stores the milk in very unhygienic conditions.
Punwani further alleged that the milk vendor is unwilling to move because he makes extra money on the side with the cows. "After milking the cows, he rents out them to people who take them to temples and earn money from temple devotees at Rs 150 every day. For several years, we have been trying to convince the milk vendor to move his cows to another place. But he refuses to listen," he said.
Mona Irani, who slipped after stepping into cow dung and badly hurt her back
The residents have often tried to alert the civic body's pound office but have failed to get the issue resolved. Last week, Khar Residents' Association complained to the H West ward office. Anandini Thakur, the managing trustee of the association, has demanded that the cows be rehabilitated elsewhere. "We have tried to contact the pound officer many times. But we suspect that this milk vendor has some understanding with the office and they alert him every time we complain. By the time they get to the spot, the cows are moved elsewhere," she said. The pound officers report to Yogesh Shetye, general manager of Deonar Abattoir, who said, "Cows need to be kept in a covered shelter and given proper food. Cows kept on the roads lead to issues of hygiene and sanitation. We have recently seized 11 cows in the area and we will continue to take action," said Shetye. Vinayak Vispute, assistant municipal commissioner of H West ward said, "The vendor cannot keep cows on footpaths in this manner as the space belongs to pedestrians. We will pick up the animals and then take action against those responsible."
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