Dairies in the state continued to report a dip in collection of milk as the ongoing supply blockade called by the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtha continued for the second day on Tuesday. If the disruption in procurement continues, milk scarcity is likely to hit the urban centres of Mumbai and Pune.
Pune region, which normally has a collection of about 65 lakh litres of milk per day, had reported just about 10 lakh litres of collection on Monday. The situation was salvaged a little on Tuesday, with the region reporting around 23-30 lakh litres of milk collection. The state saw a slight increase in the overall milk collection that, on Monday, was only about 50 per cent.
Most dairies, however, continued to report lower collections due to the agitation.
Vishwas Patil, chairman of the Kolhapur District Cooperative Milk Union (popularly known as Gokul) said that as against the usual 11 lakh litres of collection, on Tuesday only 3.23 lakh litres of milk was collected in the region. “Most of the farmers continue to boycott the procurement process,” he said. Similarly, procurements in the Phaltan-based Govind Milk and Milk products had dipped by 70 per cent while the Pune District Cooperative Milk Union, which operates the Katraj brand, reported only 50 per cent collection. Some of the dairies have decided to steer clear of procurement in view of the security risks arising out of the protest. Indraneel Chitale, partner of the Sangli-based Chiatle Dairies, said they would keep their procurement operations suspended for the third consecutive day on Wednesday.
Chitale Dairies supplies more than 4 lakh litres of milk to Pune, and the suspension of their procurement operations might result in shortage of milk in the city. In view of the continued disruptions in supplies, dairies say they might not be able to meet the urban demand.
Most of the dairies in Western Maharashtra, which cater to Mumbai and Pune. have expressed their reluctance about transporting milk in fear of acts of vandalism on the road. Dairies that have sent their tankers have done so under heavy police protection.
Meanwhile, the Sangthana has stepped up its ongoing activities to prevent the entry of milk from Gujarat.
On Tuesday, Sangthana founder and MP Raju Shetti sent back 20 tankers of milk, which were headed for Mumbai via the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Highway. The tankers were operated by the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation — the company which markets milk and milk products under the popular brand name of Amul.
Congress MLA Yashomati Thakur led a similar action in Nagpur. Reports of tankers being intercepted and milk being spilled on the roads have poured in from various parts of the state.
Senior Sanghatana leaders, including former chairman of the handloom board Ravikant Tupkar and others, were taken into preventive detention by the Bundgarden police. Western Railway has, meanwhile, made special arrangements to supply milk to Mumbai from Gujarat. Due to the ongoing agitation in the state, milk tankers are being attached to the Ahmedabad- Mumbai Central Passenger.
(With inputs from ENS Ahmedabad)