In a move aimed at regulating milk trade, the Maharashtra government has decided to crackdown on those profiteering in the trade. It has vowed to cut off supply of toxic or adulterated milk and has also launched action against those misusing Aarey stalls let out by the government in Mumbai.
Following Dairy Development Minister Eknath Khadse’s missive, the state dairy development department has already sealed 70 out of the 1,811 Aarey stalls functioning in Mumbai, after these were found to be selling private milk and other unpermitted products.
The state government has also formed 28 flying squads to act against milk adulteration. Maharashtra, the seventh largest milk producer in India, is staring at a milk crisis amid crashing milk prices worldwide and surplus milk production.
Sources confirmed that Khadse, who has already held talks with private dairies for lowering retail milk prices while paying milk farmers atleast Rs 20, has also told Controller of Legal Metrology (Weights and Measures) Sanjay Pandey to launch a drive against firms selling milk at prices higher than the maximum retail price.
The dairy department has already announced plans to issue an ordinance for initiating criminal action against private dairies and cooperatives found paying milk farmers less than Rs 20 a litre — the price state-run dairy Mahananda pays to farmers. The proposal, Khadse said, would soon be placed before the Maharashtra cabinet.
A senior dairy development department official said that during the drive against Aarey stalls, it was found that a number of these were selling milk promoted by private dairies, even as the state government has not granted permission for it. The stalls were basically set up to promote state’s own brand Aarey. In fact, sources said some were found not selling Aarey products at all, while stocking private milk in an unauthorised fashion. The government has only permitted milk from seven milk cooperatives to be stocked.