Chairman of the Madhya Pradesh Gau Samvardhan Board (Cow Protection Board) Swami Akhileshwaranand Giri, who was recently elevated to the rank of Cabinet Minister, has sought the formation of a ‘cow Ministry’ in the State.As per the board’s proposal to the government, the ministry can avail a part of the funds earmarked for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) works.“When Anand Mantralaya (Ministry of Happiness) can be constituted, why can’t there be a Gau Mantralaya? Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan himself keeps a cow at his residence. The Gau Samvardhan Board has prepared a proposal and conveyed it to the Chief Minister,” he said.“Currently matters related to the cow are handled by the Animal Husbandry Department. We want a ministry exclusively for the cow. The cow should be kept out of animal category,” he said.“The board has a meagre annual budget of ₹16 crore and no powers, so a separate Ministry is needed,” he said.The ministry could promote “cow-related industry,” create jobs for rural youth and conduct research in the field of cow breeding, he said. Rajasthan had set up a directorate for cows, but it too was inadequate, he opined.Funds from MGNREGA“Over 1.5 lakh cows are taken care of at 604 registered gaushalas (cow shelters) in Madhya Pradesh. Around the same number roam free on roads. The number of cows is expected to increase by 25% in the next livestock census,” he said.“The board has proposed that out of MGNREGA funds (around ₹15,000 crore for the State), ₹1,000 crore can be given to the cow ministry,” he said.