New Delhi: The Indian Army couldn’t get any private buyers for 22,000 cows of high-yielding breed it owns in an auction, following the defence ministry’s decision to close down all 39 military farms across the country. Started in 1889 by the British, these farms on which the Army spends Rs 300 crore a year, have become redundant as the milk supply is no more dependent on them. Since there were no takers for the past one year, the government took a policy decision that all the cattle held with the military farms are to be transferred to the central/state government departments or state dairy cooperatives at a nominal cost of Rs 1,000 per animal.
This was disclosed on Monday by Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre in a written reply to Wansuk Sylem. The transportation cost has to be borne by the buyer. There were no private buyers also because most of the animals on offer were high-yielding Friesian cows that entail high maintenance costs. The military farms had cross-bred the Holstein Friesian cows of Netherlands with the Sahiwal of India.
Once all animals are removed, the farms sitting on 20,000 acres of prime defence land will be used for new projects like the upcoming ground-based missile storage, aviation and even housing for jawans as many of them are adjacent to cantonments. The defence ministry’s plan was to close down 12 farms by August 15, 2017 and the remaining 27 in October 2017, but they could not be closed as the original plan to auction the cattle did not work out. The minister said 15 Service officers and 1196 other staff are manning the military farms. Once they are closed down completely, all the officers and staff will be redeployed, he added.