Pune: The city, on Wednesday, saw customers, retailers and small businesses worry about the milk situation as uncertainty loomed over the collection figures of milk and the stocks that the major dairies that supply milk to the city have with them. The protest to stop milk collection across the State initiated by the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna (SSS), has created a supply squeeze for major milk consuming cities like Pune and Mumbai.
The protests began on Monday, demanding a Rs 5 direct subsidy to dairy farmers who have been seeing a price crash for the last 7 months as prices per litre of milk plummeted to Rs 14 as of last week in some areas of the State. Farmers and SSS activists have been stopping milk collection tankers coming to urban areas and spilling the milk on the streets. Protesters have also damaged vehicles in Sangli, Kolhapur, Satara, Jalna and many other cities.
The protest has affected the common public. “We are a family of four. We have a small child in the house, so we need a daily supply of milk. We have been hearing the news of milk supply being affected due to the protests and have started to use milk carefully and also buy some extra milk every day,” said Archana, a homemaker living in Erandwane, adding, “The protesters should not be spilling milk on roads and give it to the poor.”
Bhanwar Rathod, who runs a supermarket in Kothrud, said that customers are panic buying. “We sell almost 100-150 litres of milk each day at our shop. Customers usually purchase milk at peak hours of the day and our milk stocks get over by 8 or 9 pm,” Rathod said, adding, “Since the news of the protests has come, customers are panic buying and our stocks have been getting over by noon.”
Parkash Chaudhary, owner of Durga Sweet Shop at Shivajinagar, said, “From last two days, we are not getting proper supply of milk packets. We use to get 80 to 90 litres of milk on a daily basis, but now we are getting barely 10 to 20 litres a day. In fact today there was no supply of milk of Gokul and Chitale. The milk products such as sweets are not affected by the farmers protest over milk, because we get the milk from dairies,”
Ganesh Patil, who runs a popular tea stall at Nal Stop, said that he is worried that his business will be affected if there is a milk shortage. “Our shop is open not only in daytime but also in early mornings. We use almost 25 litres of milk each day,” Patil said, adding, “We haven’t had any problem in milk availability as of yet, but if there is a milk crunch, our business will be affected adversely as we have not stocked up milk.”
Sachin Nivangune, President of Milk Distribution Association of Pune, said, “Everyday the city gets 15 to 20 lakh litres of milk. And due to this strike the city is facing a shortage of 10 to 15 per cent. Problems are mostly faced by milk distributors and small vendors. Even we are in favour that the farmers should get a subsidy from the government.”
Girish Chitale, President of Sangli Kolhapur Dudh Utpadak Sanghatana and owner of Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale in the city, said, “The milk supply has not been affected. But we have stopped making milk products such as curd, shrikhand, paneer, lassi and cheese. These milk products are not being produced because there is a huge demand for milk supply than these products. If the condition does not resolve soon, then we will be in shortage of milk supply as well. Even we are in favour of farmers that they should get a subsidy from the government.”
“Our collection of milk has dropped 20-25 per cent as we usually collect 2 to 2.25 lakh litres of milk each day, but now are collecting only 1,80,000 litres of milk,” said Vishnu Hinge, Chairman of Katraj Dairy, adding, “Our tankers were not damaged as we have only collected milk from farmers who have voluntarily supplied milk. Our collection will remain stable, but government should now give farmer the subsidy as it is a fair demand.”