Maharashtra milk protest: Government always open for talks, says CM Fadnavis

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today expressed concern about the agitation launched by milk suppliers over the demand for hike in procurement price and said the government is open for talks on any issue.

Maintaining that it was not right for farmers to protest over the issue, he said the government has not adopted an “egoistic view” on any issue.

Fadnavis also assured that milk supply will not be affected in view of the protest.

Mumbai and Pune are likely to face a shortage of milk as farmers’ organisations have decided to suspend supply to the two cities from today, demanding a hike of Rs 5 per litre in its procurement price.

Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana chief Raju Shetti had said yesterday that milk supply to the two major cities in Maharashtra was going to be suspended from midnight.

“We have to press for our demands because the state government is not taking any concrete decision to increase farmers’ income,” the Lok Sabha member had said.

Fadnavis said the government is always willing to discuss issues.

“Our doors are always open for discussion…The government has not adopted an egoistic view on any issue. But the way the current protest is going on, is not right,” the chief minister told reporters here.

Fadnavis also did not favour the idea of transferring subsidy to the milk producers directly.

“Only 40 per cent of the milk producers are registered with the body representing them. The remaining 60 per cent are not registered. So, direct transfer (of subsidy amount) may lead to a kind of scam,” he said.

Shetti had yesterday said that the procurement price of milk should be immediately hiked by Rs 5.

“Farmers sell milk to dairies at Rs 17 per litre. After processing it, the dairies package it in pouches and sell it at a minimum rate of Rs 42 per litre. The difference in earnings has not been passed on to the farmers,” he said.

Ajit Nawale of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha, which works for farmers’ rights, had said the agitation will intensify further if the state government failed to procure milk at higher prices or did not give special subsidy to milk farmers.

As many as 55 lakh milk pouches are sold in Mumbai every day, with the Gujarat-based Amul having the highest market share of 30 per cent followed by Kolhapur-based Gokul, a dairy department official earlier said.

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