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Dairy farmers’ stir intensifies, milk supply to Mumbai may be hit by Friday

Maharashtra government starts discussions with farmers’ outfit as protesters block state highways for all vehicles; supply unaffected so far because of stock in dairies, which is depleting.

mumbai Updated: Jul 19, 2018 13:44 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Maharashtra,Dairy farmers’ stir
A police vehicle accompanies milk tankers on their way to Mumbai, at Karad on Pune-Bangalore National Highway on Wednesday.(PTI)

As the dairy farmers’ strike entered its fourth day and the agitation intensified, the Maharashtra government started discussions with the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), the farmers’ outfit that is leading the stir.

The strike has affected the procurement of milk by dairies, which in turn has started affecting milk supply to big cities in Maharashtra, including Mumbai. The city is getting 20% less milk, and has been largely unaffected so far because of the available stock in the dairies. But the situation is likely to worsen from Friday, government officials said.

In a meeting between SSS leader Raju Shetti and state irrigation minister Girish Mahajan, held in Mumbai late on Wednesday, the agitating leader put forth two proposals before the government, either of which it could adopt to resolve the issue.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has called a meeting of major milk societies, both private and cooperatives, on Thursday to discuss procurement rates. Shetti’s options will be discussed at this meeting, to be held in Nagpur later in the day.

Shetti’s proposals are either a direct subsidy of Rs5 per litre to dairy farmers, or assurance that farmers will get a procurement price of Rs25 per litre. The government can increase the export incentive subsidy of Rs50 per kg for skimmed milk powder to help dairies, he said.

On Thursday, not just farmers, but their families too, along with their cattle, started blocking state highways in Solapur and Kolhapur. This is likely to affect not just the supply of milk but also of other essential commodities, besides troubling commuters.

Shetti alleged that the state government is trying to disrupt the agitation by arresting thousands of farmers across the state. “The agitation will continue until the state government ensures that dairy farmers get at least Rs25 per litre as procurement price of milk, which is necessary for their survival,” he said.

First Published: Jul 19, 2018 12:45 IST