A shepherd from Telangana landed in a soup as he was fined Rs 9,000 after his goats ate three saplings planted under a government scheme. The fine was issued by municipal authorities in Yellandu town in Bhadradri Kothagudem district after a government official witnessed the goats eating the plants.
On Friday, Yellandu Municipality Commissioner A Srinivas Reddy was on a visit around town, inspecting civic works and the Haritha Haram (plantation drive) programme. It was then that he came across three goats that had ventured out to the road’s median near Jagadamba centre and were eating saplings that had been planted as part of the state’s flagship scheme.
All three goats were immediately taken into custody and confined at a civic body office with basic facilities such as water and grass. Meanwhile, the officer issued a notice to the owner, L Bothu, to come and take his goats after paying Rs 9,000 as the fine - Rs 3000 for each goat.
The civic authorities said that they are empowered to take certain actions to safeguard public property, and fining the goats and their owner for eating plants was a part of this.
Speaking to TNM, Yellandu Municipality Commissioner A Srinivas Reddy said, "On Friday, I saw the goats eating the saplings and grass that was recently planted under Haritha Haram to beautify the town. I asked the staff to take the goats into custody until the owner comes to take them away after paying a fine."
The Commissioner says that they have already carried out massive campaigns through social media and wall posters to preserve and save trees while cautioning that damaging them would attract fines.
He further added, "The owner came and tried to use an excuse, but we fined him as we have kept campaigning about protecting trees and plants in town. He paid Rs 9,000 fine for three goats and took them away. Such fines will be continued."
The goats were let off on Sunday. According to officials, in the last three to four months, they have collected Rs 60,000 in fines from owners of animals, which were damaging saplings and trees planted in public places.
In September 2019, the Huzurabad police in Karimnagar district ‘arrested’ two goats after they were allegedly grazing saplings planted by activists of a local non-governmental organization (NGO) and later let them off after the owner paid a fine of Rs 1,000.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao launched the sixth phase of Haritha Haram last month, which aims to plant 30 crore saplings across Telangana and increase green cover in the state