Maharashtra: Milk producers empty tankers in protest, government says it is open for talks

Protestors stopped and emptied milk tankers on roads in several districts of Maharashtra on Monday, demanding higher procurement prices, PTI reported. The supply of milk to cities such as Mumbai and Pune was, however, not affected, according to The Hindu.
While Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis disapproved of the protest, Raju Shetti of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana said the farmers were forced to launch the agitation after the state government refused to heed their demands. Protestors damaged at least five milk vans in Pune. The police accompanied several tankers as they set off to supply milk, The Hindu reported.
Organisations of farmers are demanding an increase of Rs 5 per litre in the procurement price of milk. They decided to escalate their protest after several dairies planned to supply milk on Monday despite their objection.
“We are not happy to waste milk but the government is protecting dairies and not considering farmers’ woes,” Shetti said. “We have decided to protest out of compulsion as other ways to convince the government failed.” He warned of more protests if the state government fails to fulfil their demands. Assuring that milk supply would not be affected, Fadnavis said the government was open for talks. “The government has not adopted an egoistic view on any issue,” he said in Nagpur. “But the way the current protest is going on, is not right.” The chief minister said he does not favour the idea of directly transferring subsidy to milk producers. “Only 40% of the milk producers are registered with the body representing them,” he said. “So direct transfer [of subsidy amount] may lead to a kind of scam.”
Minister for Dairy Development Mahadev Jankar said in the Assembly that the state government would hike milk procurement prices by Rs 3 per litre, The Hindu reported. “We have already announced an export subsidy of Rs 50 per kg on milk powder,” he said. “I urge Raju Shetti to stop playing politics.”
Shetti on Sunday claimed 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,” he alleged. “The difference in earnings has not been passed on to the farmers.”