Pune: The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna (SSS) has declared that it will not let a single drop of milk to be collected from July 16 in the state, if the state government does not provide a direct subsidy of Rs 5 per litre to dairy farmers, who are struggling to get remunerative rates for cow milk. This was announced by SSS chief Raju Shetti on Tuesday.
Shetti said he had warned the government about this issue. “I met the Chief Minister almost a year ago and told him this issue will arise. With excess production of milk, huge unsold stocks of milk powder and increasing costs of rearing cattle have made the dairy industry unsustainable,” Shetti said, adding, “Besides the cow slaughter ban has made the cattle a burden on farmers.”
He said their protest will be launched across the State.
“Our activists from across the State will make sure that no collection or transport of milk is carried out starting July 16. If they try to bring in milk from other states, our activists will block the trucks on the state borders,” Shetti declared, adding, “We tried protesting peacefully. However, if we are ignored, we will disrupt supply to urban areas and then the government may take notice.”
On being asked whether wasting milk is a way of protest, Shetti said, “We are going to make an appeal that milk is not wasted. We will feed it to the poor, to schoolchildren and even let calves have it, but the farmer is tired of making a loss-making deal. A bottle of water is sold at Rs 20 a litre but the farmer gets only Rs 16 per litre for milk. If milk is that worthless, then let it go waste.”
Shetti said they will follow up on the issue of FRP. “After we met the Sugar Commissioner on June 29 after the protest rally in Pune, we were given charts and statistics by the commissioner. When we studied them, we found the Pravara sugar factory has not paid a single rupee of FRP to farmers. However, in the chart given by the commissioner, the factory has no dues at all,” Shetti said, adding, “This means this data is not reliable. We will further investigate the matter on our own.”
Shetti said the dialogue that the PM had with farmers was an eyewash. “Most of the people who sat there were not even farmers. They were instructed and made to sit through the programme as per the script. The Prime Minister of the country had promised a 1.5 times income to farmers according to the Swaminathan Commission recommendations, but it will be just word play as he did not make it clear whether it will be A2 (partial) costs or C2 (complete) costs that will be remunerated.”