Milk shortage on the horizon for Mumbai as supply drops, farmers continue agitation

Milk shortage on the horizon for Mumbai as supply drops, farmers continue agitation
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna has demanded a direct subsidy of Rs 5 per litre to dairy farmers, or assurance that farmers will get a procurement price of Rs 25 per litre (Representational Image)

Mumbaikars may have to brace for milk shortage from tomorrow amid the significant decline in supply and farmers’ decision to continue agitation till the procurement prices are hiked.

Decline In Supply

The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna started the protest on Monday to demand a direct subsidy of Rs 5 per litre to dairy farmers, or assurance that farmers will get a procurement price of Rs 25 per litre.

Since then, supporters of the Kolhapur-based farmers’ organisation have staged protests in districts like Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Pune, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Nanded and Aurangabad.

According to officials from the dairy development department, Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) reportedly received 33 lakh litres of milk on Wednesday instead of the average supply of 70 lakh litres.

The 47 percent decline in supply is a major cause of concern for the state and consumers. If the agitation continues, the existing stock in diaries will run out and citizens will have to brace for shortage from Friday.

The shortage may become acute by the weekend if supply is not restored.

The rest of Maharashtra also saw a decline in milk supply, although the shortage was relatively less compared to the MMR.

Protests To Continue

Swabhimani Paksha leader Raju Shetti, who is leading the protest, on Thursday announced that dairy farmers will continue to agitate till the state gives in to their demands.

“I am ready to withdraw the agitation if the milk purchase rate is fixed around Rs 25 per litre,” Shetti told reporters.

Earlier, in the wake of the protests, the Gujarat Dairy Development Corporation Limited had earlier asked the railways to make provisions for the transportation of additional supply of milk through trains.

Western Railway (WR) later announced that 88,000 litres of milk would be supplied via train daily for six days to meet the demand in Mumbai. The supply was to be facilitated by attaching milk tankers to the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Central passenger train.

However, Shetti vowed to stop trains carrying milk to Maharashtra from Gujarat to ensure the stocks are not replenished. The supply through trains to Mumbai has been rescheduled as of now.

Talks Underway

The Lok Sabha member has said that his discussion with state Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan on Wednesday night failed to resolve the issue.

Sources in the government had earlier said that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis asked Mahajan to meet Shetti in a bid to end the agitation.

“Mahajan is still in Mumbai and we may meet again. I am ready if the state government mandates dairies to increase the purchase price of milk, I have no issues. But till then my agitation will continue,” Shetti said.

“A milk powder maker has enquired with me and is willing to purchase one lakh litres of milk daily at Rs 25 per litre. If he is ready to do the business then why the state is not keen on promoting such businessmen,” he added.

The state’s proposal to provide a subsidy of Rs 2 to 3 per litre will benefit dairies and milk powder makers but there is no guarantee if they would pass it on to farmers, Shetti stated.

Meanwhile, Fadnavis also announced in the assembly that cases filed against dairy farmers during the ongoing protest would be withdrawn. However, cases against those who were charged for indulging in violence would not be withdrawn.

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