New Delhi: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel grabbed many eyeballs when he entered the state Assembly Wednesday to present the annual Budget carrying a briefcase made out of cow dung.
The chief minister chose to carry the Budget papers in the briefcase to promote the “gobar economy” model that the state is attempting to push. According to the model, announced in 2020, the government will buy cow dung from cattle-owners at Rs 2 per kg to make cattle-rearing economically viable.
— Bhupesh Baghel (@bhupeshbaghel) March 9, 2022
During his budget speech, Baghel also said that the state would revert to the old pension system, which assures pension after retirement to government employees. This would make Chhattisgarh the second Congress-ruled state after Rajasthan to move away from the New Pension Scheme (NPS).
The briefcase had the phrase “Gomaye Vasate Laxmi” engraved on it in Hindi, which translates to “wealth resides in the cow”.
In 2020, Chhattisgarh government announced the Gaudhan Nyay Yojana under which the government would procure cow dung from cattle owners. The government plans to use the cow dung to manufacture vermicompost for sale, which would in-turn be sold to farmers at a subsidised rate of Rs 8 per kg.
“The purpose of this scheme is to promote cattle rearing in the state and to benefit the cattle owners, who are mostly farmers,” Baghel had earlier said.
According to reports, the cow dung is also being fashioned into products at the state’s gauthans (cattle-shed premises), giving an apparent boost to income and employment.
Baghel’s scheme has also been lauded in some quarters as a political masterstroke for giving primacy to cow and cow products, a strategy mostly used by the BJP to woo Hindu voters.
The Chhattisgarh budget
The ‘gobar economy’ was a central feature in the Chief Minister’s budget speech where he announced that Chhattisgarh gauthans will now be developed as rural industrial parks under the name ‘Mahatma Gandhi Grameen Udyogik Parks’. A total of Rs 600 crore has been allotted in the state budget for the program.
(edited by Monami Gogoi)