Milk protest intensifies
Suppliers block tankers, spill milk on roads; Fadnavis says govt open for talks.
Mumbai/Pune: Milk tankers were blocked on Monday in several districts of Maharashtra by protesters demanding hike in procurement price, even as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis disapproved of the agitation and said the government is open for talks on any issue. Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel has also extended his support to the agitation, said Swambhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) Chief Raju Shetti, who is spearheading the protest.
Agitators blocked milk tankers in Pune, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Buldhana, Jalgaon and other places and emptied some of them on roads. Six milk trucks were blocked on Pune-Solapur road and milk packets were also thrown at some places, a worker of the Sanghatana said. Milk was also distributed free at several places in Pune by members of the Sanghatana, he said.
Impact of the protest was also felt on the Amul dairy’s collection centres at Vasai and Virar towns in the neighbouring Palghar district as the cooperative giant decided not to collect milk from farmers on Monday. Amul is the single largest supplier of milk to Mumbai. If Amul’s milk supply gets affected, the impact would be felt by consumers, a senior state government official said.
As many as 55 lakh milk pouches are sold in Mumbai every day, with the Gujarat-based Amul having the highest market share of 30 per cent followed by Kolhapur-based Gokul, a dairy development department official earlier said.
Farmers’ organisations are demanding a hike of Rs 5 per litre in milk procurement price and have decided to suspend milk supply to Mumbai and Pune from today. Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana Chief Raju Shetti said they were compelled to take up the agitation as the state government did not pay heed to their demands.
He said Hardik Patel has extended his support to the agitation and assured that his supporters will try to prevent milk trucks travelling from Gujarat to Maharashtra.
“We are not happy to waste milk but the government is protecting dairies and not considering farmers’ woes,” Shetti alleged.
“We have decided to protest out of compulsion as other ways to convince the government failed,” Shetti said.The agitation will intensify further if the state government fails to fulfil the demands, the Lok Sabha member from Kolhapur warned. He said the Maharashtra government was trying to scuttle the protest by bringing milk from states likes Gujarat and Karnataka but they will make sure it does not enter the western state.