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Milk stir in Maharashtra withdrawn as subsidy gets nod

As the statewide protest intensified, with farmers blocking highways and roads in several districts, the government declared the Rs 5-a-litre subsidy to all cooperative and private milk societies.

india Updated: Jul 20, 2018 11:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Milk agitation in Maharashta,Maharashtra milk agitation,milk agitation
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana activists pour milk at the memorial of Maharashtra's first chief minister late Y B Chavan during a protest to demand direct Rs 5/- subsidy per litre. The state government on Thursday agreed to give a Rs 5 a litre subsidy to all cooperative and private milk societies(PTI Photo)

The state government on Thursday agreed to give a Rs 5 a litre subsidy to all cooperative and private milk societies, ending a four-day statewide agitation by dairy farmers demanding the subsidy and a minimum support price.

As the statewide protest intensified, with farmers blocking highways and roads in several districts, the government declared the Rs 5-a-litre subsidy to all cooperative and private milk societies on the condition that they buy milk from dairy farmers at a minimum of Rs 25 a litre. The new procurement price will come into effect from July 21.

Raju Shetti, the chief of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana — the farmers’ outfit leading the protest — announced calling off the strike after he met chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in Nagpur late on Thursday.

“We welcome the state government’s decision as it will ensure dairy farmers get Rs 25 a litre as procurement price for milk. So far, the benefits of the decision that were announced by the government were not reaching to the farmers.”

Earlier in the day, Fadnavis met Union minister Nitin Gadkari, Assembly speaker Haribhau Bagade and major milk societies in the state to discuss the farmers’ demands. Dairy development minister Mahadev Jankar then announced the state’s decision on subsidy and procurement prices in the Assembly.

“The state will provide Rs 5 a litre as subsidy to milk societies. In lieu of that, they will have to procure milk at Rs 25 a litre from farmers. The decision will be applicable to both cooperative and private milk societies. The subsidy will be given only for milk that is used for making skimmed milk powder and other dairy by-products,” Jankar said.

By Thursday evening, however, the strike had made its impact on milk procurement by dairies in the state, which in turn had started affecting milk supply to big cities, including Mumbai. On Thursday, Mumbai got 20%-25% less milk, and government officials said the situation would have become worse from Friday.

To combat the shortage, the state government brought in a milk tank wagon — attached to a Mumbai-Ahmedabad passenger train coming in from Gujarat. The train arrived at the Mumbai Central Station early on Thursday, to prevent the agitating farmers from stopping it.

First Published: Jul 20, 2018 07:55 IST