Mumbai | The centre of action in the three-day old ‘milk blockage’ stir by dairy farmers in Maharashtra today shifted to a railway station over a 100 km from here as the Raju Shetti spearheading the agitation camped there to stop trains from Gujarat carrying milk to Mumbai.
“The state government seems in no mood to listen to the woes of milk-producing farmers, who will hold a chakka-jam (roadblock) protest on major roads in the state tomorrow. There will be cattle on roads tomorrow,” Swabhimani Paksha MP Raju Shetti said, after reaching Dahanu station in adjoining Palghar district.
Railways have made special arrangements for the supply of milk to Mumbai. A Western Railway official had yesterday said milk tankers will be attached to the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Central passenger train to mitigate problems faced by consumers. Three such tankers reached Mumbai yesterday, he added.
On bringing cattle into the agitation, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna leader Ravikant Tupkar said, “We have used this method to increase the effectiveness of the agitation. You can disperse people easily, but when over 50 cattle gather at a spot, you cannot move them off the road.”
The Kolhapur-based farmers’ organisation has supporters in many districts in Maharashtra. Since Monday, they have started halting milk tankers across the state. They have staged protests in districts like Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Pune, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Nanded and Aurangabad.
Many private and cooperative dairies in state have also reduced or stopped their milk collection from farmers to avoid any untoward situation, Tupkar said. Some tankers were also emptied on roads by the agitators, he added.
The Gujarat Dairy Development Corporation Limited has asked the railways to make provisions for transportation of additional supply of milk through trains. “Instead of increasing the milk purchase rate by Rs five per litre, the state government is using railways to get milk supply from Gujarat for Mumbai, which is the biggest market of packaged milk,” Shetti told PTI.
“This shows that it wants to protect the interests of urban people rather than those of farmers,” Shetti said. “I will see that no train carrying milk from Gujarat to Mumbai will pass from this station. I am here with my party workers and we are going to stop the trains if we come to know that they are carrying milk,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Western Railway official today said milk supply through train to Mumbai has been rescheduled.
The WR yesterday announced that 88,000 litres of milk would be supplied via train daily for six days to meet the demand of Mumbai city.