The post-mortem examination report of 48 cows, who were found dead in a cow shelter in Delhi’s Chhawla area last week, suggested that most of them died because of “impaction”, which causes failure of digestion. According to sources in the Animal Husbandry Department, ingestion of plastic is one of the major causes of impaction.
Police sources told The Indian Express that the report suggested that most of the cows had impaction, along with “pneumonia and weakness”. The post-mortem examination was conducted at the Government Veterinary Polyclinic in Ghazipur on Friday and Saturday.
Chief veterinarian of Wildlife Trust of India NVK Ashraf said, “Impaction happens due to undigested material or overeating. In this case, too, the consumption of plastic material might be the reason for their death.”
In 2015, the then Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, while referring to the campaign “plastic carry-bag free India”, had said that at least 30 kilograms of plastic can be found in the stomach of every cow or buffalo that dies in India.
The shelter where the cows were found dead is run by Acharya Sushil Gosadan Trust at Ghumanhera village in Chhawla. When police reached the shelter on Friday, they found that a total of 1,400 cows were kept there, out of which 36 had died. Twelve more cows died later.
“The examination report has been sent to the office of the Animal Husbandry of Delhi government for their final opinion,” said a police officer. After the incident, the police had launched an investigation. The minister of the animal husbandry department, Gopal Rai, also ordered an inquiry into the incident.
According to a government official, the cow shelter houses only abandoned cows. “Abandoned cows sometimes consume indigestible materials and waste in their search for food. The impaction seems to have happened due to that,” said the official.
A senior MCD official had said that they wrote to the Delhi government several times to open more cow shelters as the existing ones were full. Only one of the five gaushalas have the space to accommodate more cows. The lack of grazing areas compounds the problem, as dairy owners leave their cows and bulls on the roads to eat whatever they can find.