MUMBAI: Farmers at various places across Maharashtra on Thursday distributed thousands of litres of milk free of cost to protest against the low base price of milk in the state.
While mineral water bottle costs Rs 20, the milk is hardly getting a rate if Rs 15 to 18 at the cooperatives and diaries. While farmers have demanded base rate of Rs 50 per litre for milk, the government has fixed the procurement price at Rs 27.
"To protest the low rates farmers distributed milk free of cost at the collector's office in several districts today. The agitation will continue for about a week," said Dr Ajit Navle of the Kisan Sabha.
The protest adopted various forms at various places. While farmers from Lakhganga Village in Vaijapur tehsil of Aurangabad district distributed free milk to the entire village, in Shirdi farmers performed 'Milk Abhishek' to a stone which according to them represented the state government. In Parbhani farmers shouted slogans at the district collector's office and distributed free milk to people walking by them.
Though the government has fixed the procurement price at Rs 27, none of the cooperatives are procuring the milk at the prescribed rate. The best rate that farmers get is around Rs 20-25. Hence the farmers have also demanded subsidy for milk producers just like that of Karnataka and Goa.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has warned that the cooperatives that won't procure milk at prescribed rates would be disbanded. Government is also trying to build one single brand of all the milk producers in the state. However, the cooperatives are not ready even for that, the CM has said.
Minister for animal husbandry Mahadeo Jankar said that the government will take stern action if the cooperatives don't budge within a week. He also said that the government shall soon bring a legislation to make it compulsory to procure milk at the rates fixed by the government.