After allotment of Rs 60-crore tender for desi ghee to a Pune-based company, Sanoi Dairy, by the SGPC for preparing karah parshad and langar at various gurdwaras across the Punjab and Haryana, the state government has urged the Sikh body to reconsider its decision in the interest of state’s 3.5 lakh milk producers, 99 per cent of whom are Sikhs.
In a letter to SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal, Punjab Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa has said that the state’s farmers donate tons of foodgrains to SGPC for distribution as langar and the religious body’s allotment of tender to a company outside Punjab would create livelihood problems for these farmers.
Quoting former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Randhawa wrote that “he (Tohra) would often say that SGPC is not a business establishment. He used to say that every decision of SGPC should be made after taking into consideration the welfare of the Sikh panth. He used to believe that he would not rent out a SGPC shop outside Golden Temple to an atheist for 10 times the normal rent and would rather give it to a poor Sikh selling ‘kakkars’ (symbols of Sikhism).”
In the letter, Randhawa has also raised questions over quality of the desi ghee that the company would be supplying to SGPC at a much cheaper price than quoted by Milkfed.
He writes, “Milkfed helps the farmers by procuring milk from them at certain price so that they do not suffer losses. At the same time it provides its consumers premium products by not comprising on quality. This does not leave room for the Milkfed to quote a price which is lesser than quoted earlier. If we reduce the price, the farmers will have to bear the brunt.”
Pune firms promises quality
Meanwhile, Sonai Dairy, the Pune-based private cooperative firm connected with 75,000 farmers from Maharashtra, Telangana and Karnataka, has said that it will supply best quality product to the SGPC.
The SGPC had recently allotted tender for desi ghee to be used at over 85 gurdwaras in Punjab and Haryana to this company as it had quoted the lowest price.
B S Avhad, Vice President of the company told The Indian Express over phone, “We would supply the best quality ghee to SGPC as it is meant to be used for parshad and langar.”
He added: “The cost of production of desi ghee in Punjab is obviously higher because the farmers there use buffalo milk which is costlier by at least Rs 7-8 per litre. We depend on milk from good-quality cows and our ghee turns out to be cheaper. That is the only difference.”
He said the dairy had supplied milk products to SGPC in 2013 too and has been a supplier of these products to various religious places, including Shirdi Sai Baba temple, Tirumala Devasthan and others. “We are doing it with ‘sewa-bhav’ and the spirit of charity. We will not make much profit out of this. I can assure you it will not be more than Rs 5 per kg.”
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