From May 1, vendors will not stock milk from companies like Amul, Gokul, Mother Dairy, Mahanand and Warana. They are demanding a higher margin from these companies. Mumbai receives 70 lakh litres of milk every day, of which nearly 30 lakh litres comes from these milk brands.
Consumer activists are now demanding that the state government intervene to stop the highhandedness of milk vendors and retailers.
Milk retailers have claimed that they are not stopping the supply of milk but are only giving consumers alternatives. “If other brands can give us higher margins then why can’t these brands,” said Amit Bhuvad, general secretary, Mumbai District Milk Retailers Association.
Hindustan Times was first to report on the rampant fleecing of consumers on milk bags. Following the action initiated by the legal metrology organisation (LMO) against retailers for overcharging, shopkeepers are arm-twisting consumers by refusing to stock their preferred brand of milk.
“The profit margin is an internal issue between the retailer and milk packaging companies. Consumers should not be held at ransom for it. Milk is an essential commodity and many people are used to certain brands. The state should invoke the essential services maintenance act (ESMA) against such agitators,” said Anuradha Deshpande, committee member of Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP).
To counter the high-handedness of retailers, Girish Bapat, minister of food, civil supplies and consumer protection department, has asked milk cooperatives to strengthen their network and develop a retail outlet chain.
“We have made it clear to the milk cooperatives that the MRP will not be increased. The fleecing of consumers should stop at once,” Bapat said.
When contacted, Dattaray Ghanekar, managing director Gokul Dairy, said, “We are open to negotiations. By stopping the milk supply, the retailers are holding only consumers at ransom.”