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AIZAWL: The death of milch cows that were distributed to the beneficiaries of the New Land Use Policy (NLUP), a flagship programme of the Congress government led by chief minister Lal Thanhawla, snowballed into a major scandal in the state. The Lal Thanhawla government was forced to order a probe into the deaths of at least 169 dairy cows due to pressure from opposition parties and media.
The chief minister informed the state assembly that a three-member inquiry committee, headed by state industries secretary PC Lallawmsanga, will submit its reports to the government within two months.
Initially, the animal husbandry and veterinary department officials attributed the death of the cows, which were brought from Haryana and Punjab, to foot and mouth disease (FMD) infected from the local cattle.
However, owners of cattle in Durtlang and Sihphir said their cows began showing symptoms of FMD after the arrival of the cows imported from Punjab and Haryana.
"The cows in our village began showing signs of FMD after the arrival of cows from Punjab and Haryana. The cows in the southern parts of Aizawl are not affected by the disease as the imported cows were not distributed there," said a cattle owner in Sihphir village.
So far, 72 cows being reared before the arrival of the 'NLUP cows' died in Sihphir village and 37 cows in Durtlang village due to FMD and related diseases after the arrival of cows from north India, the villagers said.
The state government had entered into agreements with two firms of Haryana and Punjab, which were to supply milch cows to the state. The conditions of the agreements were highly beneficial for the two private firms, but not for the NLUP beneficiaries and the Mizoram government.
In an agreement signed with the Model Dairy Cattle Breeding Farm of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, it was agreed that the firm will supply 300 lactating pregnant crossbreed cows, each at the cost of Rs 55,000, which will include the transportation. The agreement was signed on March 21, 2012. The cows were to be brought from Ludhiana in Punjab to Aizawl. "The animals will be fully vaccinated, healthy, free from any diseases and will be tagged firmly after selection," the agreement said.
While the animals were to be transported either by road or rail safely from Ludhiana to Aizawl, one of the conditions of the agreement clearly said that after loading the animals, all the responsibilities of the supplier (Model Dairy Cattle Breeding Farm) would be over.
The agreement also stipulates 90% advance payment at the time of placing the order and 10% payment at the time of delivery of the cows.