Over 60 milk vendors, who supplied supply milk in Bathinda air force station’s cantonment area, are out of business since March 22. The ban on their entry to the area after the lokdown was first imposed has also hit around 1,800 dairy farmers associated with them.
These vendors have now decided to approach Bathinda DC for help. Buta Singh, one of the milk vendors of village Bibiwala, said, “We have been into the milk vending business for generations, we don’t know any other work. But coronavirus has put us in a tight spot. We used to supply milk at Rs 50 per kg in family quarters of the cantonment area for the past many years. However, once the lockdown happened in the country, we were told by cantonment staff that we cannot enter inside. Now, Verka milk vans go inside to supply milk to them. We waited for weeks, but we were never given a chance again. We are just vendors, and don’t even have cattle to sell milk elsewhere. We used to take milk from dairy farmers to sell it further. Now, we have been told to wait till Covid-19 settles down.”
Sandeep Singh, another vendor of Bhagu village, said, “One vendor is attached to minimum 30 dairy farmers. So in this case, not less than 1,800 dairy farmers are affected along with us. Although, they are now giving milk to some other private dairies, but at throwaway prices. They used to sell it to us at more than Rs 35/litre, which they are being forced to sell at as low as Rs 20 per litre.”
Two other milk vendors, Narpat Singh and Sohan Singh of Bhucho Khurd village, said that entry of vendors was banned during Kargil war too, but that time they had other options, which are not readily available now.
The vendors pointed out that vegetable vendors have been allowed to go inside and even many other civilians who have shops inside the cantonment.
“We should be allowed for fixed hours to enter inside, when Unlock 2.0 has happened, why restrictions on milk vendors,” said Buta Singh.
These vendors will meet Bathinda DC on Thursday to discuss their issues.
Bathinda DC B Srinivasan said,”There are many restrictions which still exist in the cantonment area. But vendors are welcome to meet me. I will find a solution, so that their work continues. Administration is committed to help them out and we will not let them and dairy farmers run out of work. “
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