Starting today, Maharashtra is likely to be affected by milk shortage since dairy farmers have gone on a strike since Sunday night. However, officials have said the capital city of Mumbai will not be affected as it has enough buffer stock to last two days. Big dairies have affirmed that they will continue to distribute milk in Mumbai.
Farmers, led by Lok Sabha MP from Kolhapur Raju Shetti, are protesting against drop in milk prices and reduction in procurement by milk cooperatives. Shetti’s party, Swabhimaani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), has a strong base in milk-producing areas of western Maharashtra. The SSS, along with other farmer’s organisations like All India Kisan Sabha and Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, which have joined the protest, is demanding higher prices for farmers and a Rs 5 per litre direct subsidy.
Maharashtra dairy farmers on strike from today, but Mumbai ready with buffer stock
Shetti, who has withdrawn from the NDA citing anti-farmer policies, “The BJP government does not understand issues of rural Maharashtra. We will block all the highways and ensure not a single milk tanker is allowed.” Many dairies in Ahmednagar had stopped milk collection on Sunday and were not likely to send out tankers on Monday, sources told the paper.
However, big players in milk cooperatives have said they will continue to distribute milk. RS Sodhi, MD of Amul, told the Times of India, “We are dispatching full quantity as usual and have taken required action for a smooth supply.” Sodhi added that they will resort to seeking police assistance in escorting vehicles if the need arose.
MD Dattatray Ghanekar of Gokul Dairy, which is headquartered in Kolhapur, the heart of the agitation, said they had dispatched the regular stock to Mumbai on Sunday under police escort and that the stock will last until Tuesday. He added that the dairy will not collect milk from farmers on Monday, which might affect the supply on Tuesday; however, collection will resume Tuesday onwards and the dairy will supply 7.5 lakh litres of milk.
The dairy development department has directed the cooperatives to continue supplying milk, assuring them that the “government is taking positive steps for the farmers”.