CHANDIGARH: In Punjab, despite strict action by the state government against the traders who supply spurious milk to people, the practice still thrives.
This has adversely hit the dairy business in the state. The reason is simple: increase in demand and less supply.
The state is the fifth largest producer of milk in the country as it generates over 9.714 million tonnes annually. For several years, the trade of spurious milk has flourished in the state despite the fact that every third day a case is registered against the people who supply this milk.
In 2015, some 154 cases were registered against the people who supply and manufacture spurious milk. Of these, 142 are in various courts awaiting trial. In 2016, around 140 cases were registered and last year, 110 cases were registered. In the last three years, over 400 cases have been registered. This year, more than 50 cases have been registered.
“We often conduct raids based on tip-offs. We seize the content, and file criminial cases against the businessmen who supply and manufacture spurious milk,” said Health Minister Brahm Mohindra.
“The department has two vans in the state — one is permanently stationed at Amritsar and the other moves around the state to check for adulterated milk. People call them and get samples tested and that’s how suppliers are caught.”
In each van, 40 tests are carried out to check adulteration. “Now I am writing to all the MLAs of the state to check this menace. Otherwise our future generation will be effected,” he averred.
Mohindra said that Punjab is the first state in the country to launch the Food Safety App to provide significant information about the adulteration in food items and sampling process. “Officers have been repeatedly told to take immediate action against the businessmen who are involved in production or sale of contaminated food items,” he said.
Sources said that the number of dairy cattle in villages is decreasing, while the demand of milk and its’ by-products is increasing. Therefore, the demand is being filled by supply of spurious milk. Around 40% milk sold in the state is spurious, they added.
Experts claim that milking capacity of cattle decreases when the mercury rises, but at the same time the demand of milk remains same; that’s why dairy owners adulterate. Those who buy unpacked milk are more at risk of falling ill.
A while ago, a spurious desi ghee factory was caught in Bathinda, but before the health department could raid the premises, its’ owner escaped. In another incident, the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) team of Punjab Police along with Health Department officials busted a milk-manufacturing factory at Dhaula village in Barnala and seized 150 kg spurious milk. The police raided four houses in Rupaheri village in Sangrur and seized 58 kg of spurious milk.
Progressive Dairy Farmers Association, President Daljit Singh Sadarpura, says, “Many factories of adulterated milk and milk products are running without any fear. From June, the demand of milk and its products will increase. This will hasten the availability of spurious milk in the market. We will now pursue this issue with Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Health Minister Brahm.”