Nashik and Pune: Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana’s (SSS) agitation demanding a hike in milk procurement prices by Rs 5 per litre, which began on Monday, affected distribution and supply across Maharashtra as milk-collection centres and dairies refused to buy milk form milk farmers. SSS activists claimed to have stopped around 100 milk tankers from going to cities. They also emptied milk tankers and cans on roads.
Sagar Londave, a youth from Mangavedha in Solapur district, bathed with 35 litres of to signify that milk is cheaper than water. He even bathed his cows with milk. Although Mumbai and other cities did not face a shortage of milk on Monday, they may face it from Tuesday. According to SSS, around 1,000 activists were detained by the police.
High level of police security was put up at Sinnar tehsil of Nashik and parts of Ahmednagar district due to presence of several dairy centres. Nashik District Collector, Radhakrishnan S said that 15 milk tankers were sent to Mumbai under police protection by mid morning. No reports of stopping of tankers were received in Nashik division.
“District collectors had asked dairies and farmers if they wanted protection to get their tankers to cities. Accordingly 20 tankers of milk were sent to Mumbai under police protection, said Shashikant Patle, chief of special branch police, Kolhapur.
Mahesh Mohite, public relation officer of Pune rural police said, “We have deployed police escorts on routes taken by milk tankers. 45 tankers on their way to Mumbai and 72 on their way to Pune city from rural areas were given protection.”
Meanwhile, Kisan Sabha state general secretary, Dr Ajit Nawale said, “The strike is unanimous as nearly all milk producers have decided to participate this agitation. Only about 10 to 20 per cent milk might have been collected in Maharashtra. ”
Vinayak Patil of Mahanand Milk Dairy said, “The collection of milk was not done as the dairy farmers had joined the protest. We have incurred a loss of at least five lakh litres of Mahanand milk and 10 lakh litres of Gokul Milk from Kohapur, Sangli and Satara division.”
Activists also emptied milk tankers in Solapur, Kolhapur, Nashik, Hadapsar, Buldhana, Amhednagar among many.
SSS chief Raju Shetti has asked activists to protest peacefully by meeting farmers, dairies and asking them to not collect milk. Mr Shetti said, “If the state procures milk from other states we will do satyagraha. Besides we have not yet received any invitation for discussion from the government.”
Dairy farmer Sampatrao Sonawane from Bhuse village in Niphad tehsil said that he was not able to sell milk since two days as the milk collection centres were closed.
“Some farmers are trying to desiccate the milk and form ‘khava’ which is used in sweets, while others are distributing it to the villagers for free,” he added.