Dairy farmers across Maharashtra staged agitations to draw the state and central governments’ attention to the crisis they have been facing due to the falling milk prices. They wanted the governments to meet their demands immediately.
According to the distressed farmers, milk prices have dropped due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the lockdown started, they have been forced to sell milk at around Rs 17-18 a litre, considerably lower than the pre-lockdown price of Rs 30 a litre. Consumers, however, continue to shell out Rs 48 for every litre.
The agitation was spearheaded by the All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and the Dudh Udpadakh Saethkari Sangharsh Samiti. In many districts, BJP functionaries also threw their weight behind the farmers, who poured milk on the roads and staged rasta rokos.
State general secretary of AIKS Ajit Navale told TOI that the stir was a success. “We will be holding a meeting within the next few days to plan a future course of action. Our agitation will continue until the dairy farmers’ demands are met,” Navale said. He added that the BJP workers participated in the stir on their own.
“If they are concerned about the plight of dairy farmers, they must convince the Centre to meet our demands. Our organisation does not have any pact with the BJP,” Navale said.
“We want the state government to compensate for the losses by providing Rs 10 a litre as subsidy. The amount must be transferred directly into the bank account of the dairy farmers,” said Navale.
According to him, even the Union government is not paying any heed to the farmer’s demands. “We want Centre to rescind the June 26 notification clearing imports of 10 lakh tonne of milk powder. This will ruin dairy farmers across India. Moreover, the Centre must also roll back its decision to import milk and milk products from the USA,” he added.
In Kolhapur, local BJP functionaries agitated at several places seeking grants for the farmers who have incurred losses because of dairies buying milk at lower prices.
They also demanded 50 per kg for the dairies to convert the milk into milk powder. Workers, led by senior BJP functionary Dhananjay Mahadik, blocked the national highway for 15-20 minutes. The police then detained the agitators.
“The state government should provide Rs 10 per litre to the cow milk and Rs 50 per kilogram for milk powder. The dairies are buying milk at Rs 16 to Rs 18 per litre. The government should buy excess milk.”
In Islampur, workers of MLC Sadabhau Khot’s Rayat Kranti Sanghatana obstructed the vans carrying milk to the dairies. The workers poured milk on the road.
In the evening, Kolhapur district guardian minister Satej Patil criticised the BJP activists adding that since the Centre has taken a decision to import about 10,000 tonne of milk powder, the milk prices have dropped.
“The BJP is doing meaningless stunts targeting the state government. It is because of the Centre’s decision to import milk powder that the dairies are facing the crisis. Also, many dairies are controlled by BJP leaders. These dairies pay less to the milk farmers and sell the milk at Rs 50 to Rs 55 per litre in Mumbai and Pune. The BJP leaders should ensure that dairies controlled by them increase milk procurement price.”
In Aurangabad, the local BJP workers poured milk on a cut-out of NCP chief Sharad Pawar as a part of their protest.
Three different entry points of the city and many other parts of Marathwada witnessed the related demonstrations. Here too, the BJP workers staged rasta-rokos. BJP’s Marathwada spokesperson Shirish Boralkar said the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra was pushing farmers to the brink, so much so, that some may even be considering suicide.
“Milk production is the lifeline for many farmers. Instead of supporting their business, the state government is slashing purchase price of milk,” he said.
On allegations that the BJP’s milk agitation is politically motivated, Boralkar said the wholehearted participation of milk producers refute such charges.
Source Times Of India