The Maharashtra government on Thursday said middlemen were profiting from the prevailing milk prices and assured to look into the demand to provide subsidy to cooperative milk producers in the state.
Opposition Congress and NCP raised issues related to milk producers and prevailing rates of the dairy product in the assembly and staged a walkout from the House when the government "failed" to address their concerns.
NCP group leader Ajit Pawar said milk producers (farmers) were getting just Rs 17 per litre when the rate was Rs 27 a litre last year. "Mineral water is now fetching higher price than milk," the former deputy chief minister quipped.
He demanded a subsidy for milk producers on the line of Goa and Andhra Pradesh in view of the drop in milk powder rates in the international market.
Revenue minister Eknath Khadse pointed out that there was a huge gap between the buying price of milk and the rate at which consumers get it.
"When milk producers are selling at the rate of Rs 20 per litre why it should be available to consumers at Rs 40 per litre? It seems middlemen are making money. This gap should be minimised so that consumers also get relief," said.
The minister assured the house his government would consider to give subsidy to cooperative milk producers, but not to private entities.
Pawar said earlier the state government used to give Rs 2 per kg as subsidy to milk powder manufacturers. "In Goa and Andhra Pradesh, the governments give Rs 5-7 for every kg of milk powder as subsidy to bail out producers in the wake of drop in rates in the international market."
"Farmers are already facing acute water shortage and not getting fair price of their produce. The low rate of milk is another blow for them and hence the government should come out with a concrete financial assistance plan in the prevailing situation," he insisted.
When the minister did not announce any concrete relief plan for milk producers, the Opposition members entered into the well of the house and shouted anti-government slogans.
Amid the pandemonium, the chair adjourned the house for 30 minutes.