Dairy farmers disrupt milk supply in Maharashtra, set truck on fire

July 17, 2018

Major dairies in Maharastra stopped procurement of milk from farmers across the state on Monday in view of the strike called by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna’. The Sanghatana has called for a supply stoppage to demand Rs 5 per litre as subsidy for dairy farmers.

The agitators stopped milk tankers in various places and emptied them on roads as a mark of protest. Led by MP Raju Shetti, the farmer’s union has called for stoppage of milk supplies to Mumbai and Pune from Monday. The Sanghatana wants direct subsidy for farmers to help them tide over fluctuating milk prices. Dairy farmers are currently paid at the rate of Rs 17-23 per litre for milk with 3.5 per cent fat and 8.5 per cent Solid-Not-Fat (SNF). Dairies have cited the low prices of skimmed milk powder as the reason for them slashing the procurement price at farm gate level.
The agitation turned violent in Malegaon where protesters set ablaze a truck of milk.
On Monday, Kolhapur-based Gokul Diary and Sangli-based Chitale Dairy have stopped procurement of milk. Similarly, Phaltan-based Govind Diary has officially halted procurement but officials said they have accepted milk supplies brought by farmers to their factory gate. Maharashtra procures 1.42 crore litres of milk on a daily basis.

Milk was transported to Mumbai by dairies under heavy police protection. With the Sanghatna promising to step up their agitation, dairies fear disruption in procurement and supplies to urban areas.

Impact of the protest was also felt on the Amul dairy’s collection centres at Vasai and Virar towns in the neighbouring Palghar district as the cooperative giant decided not to collect milk from farmers today. Amul is the single largest supplier of milk to Mumbai.

If Amul’s milk supply gets affected, the impact will be felt by consumers, a senior state government official said. As many as 55 lakh milk pouches are sold in Mumbai every day, with the Gujarat-based firm having the highest market share of 30 per cent followed by Kolhapur-based Gokul.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minsiter Devendra Fadnavis disapproved of the agitation launched by milk suppliers and said the government was open for talks on any issue. Assuring that milk supply would not be affected, he said the government has not adopted an “egoistic view” on any issue.

“Our doors are always open for discussion… The government has not adopted an egoistic view on any issue. But the way the current protest is going on, is not right,” the chief minister told reporters in Nagpur.

Fadnavis also did not favour the idea of transferring subsidy to the milk producers directly.

“Only 40 per cent of the milk producers are registered with the body representing them. The remaining 60 per cent are not registered. So, direct transfer (of subsidy amount) may lead to a kind of scam,” he said.

Source : The Indian Express

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