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Supply to be hit as milk spilled on roads, tankers damaged during farmers’ strike in Maharashtra

Mumbai was largely unaffected on Monday, but might face shortage from today, if the protest continues.

mumbai Updated: Jul 17, 2018 13:57 IST
Faisal Malik & Pradip Maitra
Faisal Malik & Pradip Maitra
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Milk protests,Maharashtra dairy farmers,Maharashtra Milk
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna activists protest at Shiradhon Village in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, on Monday. (PTI photo)

With dairy farmers launching their indefinite strike across Maharashtra from Monday, demanding a higher procurement price for milk, Mumbai was largely unaffected, but might feel the heat from Tuesday if the protest continues.

Farmers tried to block milk supplies to major cities, including Mumbai. At some places, agitating farmers damaged milk tankers and set one on fire at Malegaon in Vidarbha region.

Following the strike call, farmers did not collect milk at many districts. They have been demanding direct transfer of Rs5 a litre in their account for the next four months and an MSP of Rs27 a litre declared by the state.

Milk supplies for Mumbai were not impeded on Monday, but it may soon change. Cooperative dairies supply a significant amount of milk to Mumbai. They collect it from farmers for whom milk production, besides agriculture, is an important occupation.

The strike was called by the Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana (SSS) led by Kolhapur Member of Parliament (MP) Raju Shetti. Other farmers’ outfits and all political parties but the BJP have backed the strike.

Meanwhile, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the government was willing to discuss the issue and promised that milk supply would not be affected.

He did not favour the direct transfer demand because only 40% of the dairy farmers are represented by SSS.

Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana activists pour milk at the memorial of Maharashtra's first chief minister late YB Chavan during a protes in Karad, Maharashtra, on Monday. ( PTI photo )

Major dairies in the state did not procure milk from farmers on Monday, said Anil Pawar, spokesperson of SSS.

Suppliers had to face the wrath of the protesters, who stopped milk tankers and emptied them on roads in various districts, he added. A milk tanker was set on fire in Malegaon of Washim district. However, Shetti asked farmers to eschew violence and spilling milk on roads.

“We have urged farmers to not turn violent. We want to block milk supplies of urban areas and will continue to do so until our demands are met,” said the MP.

Shetti will be in Palghar on Tuesday to crimp milk supplies from Gujarat to Mumbai.

State’s dairy development commissioner Rajiv Jadhav said agitated farmers tried to block milk supplies of Mumbai and other cities but failed.

In Nagpur, both houses of the state legislature were stormy after the Opposition parties hit out at the government over the strike. While moving adjournment motion in the lower house, leader of opposition in the state Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil accused the government of not honouring its word to milk farmers after a joint meeting with the CM.

“The milk procurement price should be enhanced to Rs30 a litre. The government has not taken a firm decision on milk powder and should fix its price at Rs50 a kg. Milk powder manufacturers are not benefitting at all,” he said. NCP leader Ajit Pawar also joined him by alleging that dairy farmers were in distress due to inadequate prices.

First Published: Jul 17, 2018 07:45 IST