Delhi plans to create a special home for both elderly people and some of the Indian megacity’s thousands of cows, in a new animal welfare blitz also aimed at reducing numbers of monkeys and stray dogs.
The local development minister Gopal Rai said as he unveiled the programme on Wednesday that “cows and senior citizens will co-exist, taking care of each other” in the planned pilot facility in southwest Delhi.
“When a cow dries up, people leave her and she ends up in a gaushala (cow shelter). Similarly, humans too are abandoned and sent to old age homes, even by rich families,” local media quoted Rai as saying.
Other steps include “birth control” measures for the Indian capital’s ubiquitous, mischievous and occasionally dangerous monkeys, the sterilisation of stray dogs and electronic chips for cows and pets.
In addition, people unable to look after their cows — a common sight on Delhi’s roads, impeding traffic and eating rubbish — will be able to house the animals in special hostels for a small fee.
Ever since Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party stormed to power in 2014, cows — sacred for Hindus — have won a near-VIP status.
Rumours of cows being taken for slaughter have sparked murderous reprisals and religious riots.
Every month, some 600 cattle are rounded up in Delhi and relocated to five shelters.
A 2012 livestock census found there were more than five million stray cows across India and more than 12,000 in Delhi.