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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Milk protest trouble may boil over tomorrow

Agitation to intensify with farmers, their cattle blocking highways; CM to meet milk societies

mumbai Updated: Jul 19, 2018 00:07 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik
Hindustan Times
A police vehicle accompanies milk tankers on their way to Mumbai on Pune-Bangalore National Highway.
A police vehicle accompanies milk tankers on their way to Mumbai on Pune-Bangalore National Highway.(PTI)

While dairy farmers’ strike continued for the third day on Wednesday, the city remained largely unaffected. With dairies running out of stock, consumers may face shortage from Friday.

Dairy farmers are demanding a direct subsidy of ₹5 a litre from the state for the next four months to offset their losses owing to low procurement prices. They are also upset over not getting the minimum support price (MSP) of ₹27 a litre declared by the state.

The strike has so far impacted milk procurement by the dairies, which may soon hit supplies to Mumbai and other cities. Farmers’ leader and chief of Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana (SSS) Raju Shetti on Wednesday declared the agitation would be intensified from Thursday, with not just farmers but their families, along with cattle, goats and sheep, blocking key highways. “The government wants to disrupt the strike and has started to arrest farmers. As no attempts have been made to resolve the issue, we have decided to block highways and roads across the state,” Shetti said.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has also called for a meeting of major milk societies, comprising both private and cooperatives, on Thursday to discuss the procurement prices. “The state will ask them to increase procurement prices,” said Kiran Kurundkar, secretary, state dairy development department.

State medical education minister Girish Mahajan invited Shetti to discuss the issue late Wednesday night. SSS spokesperson Anil Pawar said, “If the discussion is positive, Shetti will go to Nagpur to attend the Thursday meeting called by the CM.”

Fadnavis will also discuss the issue with all party leaders.

The Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) is the biggest milk supplier for Mumbai which supplies around 11 lakh litres daily in the name of ‘Amul’ brand is facing procurement problems.

“Mumbai won’t face any problem till Thursday, but we are not sure about Friday’s supply,” said RS Sodhi managing director, GCMMF.

On Wednesday, Gokul was able to procure only 1.85 lakh litres of milk, which is around 3.65 lakh litres less than the average daily procurement in the morning. Milk procurement is done twice a day. Gokul is now getting milk from Karnataka to cope with the procurement shortage. “We have been able to maintain our milk supply because of the existing stock. We may have to reduce our supplies by 50% from Friday, if the situation remains unchanged,” Sanjay Dinde, spokesperson, Gokul Milk, second largest milk supplier to Mumbai, said.

Mohan Yedurkar, managing director, Warna Milk, supplies around 2 lakh litres of milk to Mumbai daily, said, “Our milk procurement has been affected by 20%, but that is because of heavy rain and flooding around Kolhapur and Sangli.”

The state believes milk societies will increase procurement prices by ₹5, after which the issue will be resolved.

Kurundkar said, “The Centre has declared 10% export incentive subsidy to dairy byproducts. The state has also declared export incentive subsidy for skimmed milk powder. We will ask milk societies to increase milk prices. We are expecting an announcement in Thursday’s meeting.”

First Published: Jul 19, 2018 00:06 IST