For condemned COWS, he is a SAVIOUR
T O Abraham
THE TIMES OF
e may live in the district that has earned the unenviable moniker of farmer’s suicide capital, but Lachhu Patel lives a full life. On a sprawling 150 acres, he grows soyavean, tur, jowar and other crops round the year. He owns a comfortable house, a tractor and other modern farm equipment, a sizeable band balance and even a Tata Safari. But what has made his life truly enriching is his side business’: Saving lives.
Patel’s house has a huge cattle shed with about 100 cows, all rescued from being sent to slaughter houses. Patel says he has bought all the bovines often malnourished and deemed unfit to work in the fields for more that the market price of a healthy cow. But what makes his mission extraordinary is that he donates of gifts these cows to needy farmers so that they can either use then to help in farming or as an additional source of farmers cannot sell the cows to butchers.
Such is Patels reputation that truckers transporting old and lean cows to slaughter houses in the city often stop by at his place in Pandharkawada town. That’s because he give the truckers a good deal on the emaciated animals, giving them a new lease of life in the process.
To honour his efforts, Patel was conferred with the Gaumitra Puraskar on Wednesday. Hundreds of farmers and over 200 farm widows from the nearby villages thronged to the venue to witness the felicitation programme.
Patel started his noble Endeavour in 2002. “I want to spend my life for the protection of cows as the relationship between cows and farmers is sacred and inseparable,” he said. Patel, 49, whose is also known as Laxmanrao Bolenwar, said his monthly income is between Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 25,000 and the expenditure on these cows and calves is between Rs. 25-30,000.
“Today I collect over 50 liters of milk from these cows and earn Rs. 800-900 per day,” he said with an air of pride and added that a right thinking farmer can never ignore the place of cows in his life.
While lauding the efforts of Acharya Vinoba Bhave who stood against the killing of cows till his end, Patel said that he would always keep his doors open for discarded cows. “I will feed them even if the offer me no returns, he said.
However, Patel is smart enough to know that the cows, even the rejected ones, are worth a lot. They produce calves, which are additional assets. “A young cow grown to crosses costs Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 25,000. And a pair of oxen is not less than Rs. 50,000,” he said and added that he garners additional income of Rs. 2-2.5 lakh per year this way too. “Since I am a farmer, I also use the cow dung and urine in my field as manure,” he added.
Patel, whose family migrated to Pandharkawada many generations ago, gets supports from his family members in his Endeavour.
His wife Satyapriya is always by his side and one of his sons Rohit helps his father in farming. His daughter Shruti has just joined the first year engineering course in Computer Science. Patel married off his four sisters from his own earnings as his father died of cancer many years ago.
When asked if he received any financial support for his special pursuit, Lachhu said that a Warangal-based NGO had approached him for protection of discarded cows. “But I turned down their offer as the project is profitable and I can sustain is without any outside assistance.”
This hard-working farmer, however, has so harsh words today’s cultivators. “Farmers, especially among the tribals, have become lazy and always expect to get either government or NGO assistance. “The talk veers toward Kalavati Banurkar, who got assistance from various quarters after being visited by Rahul Gandhi. “Kalavati is definitely benefited from the help she got,” he said but added that it is ‘non-productive’.” If the huge amount donated to Kalavati and other farm widows was invested over a long-term project in the area, many families would have benefited,” he feels.