Workers of Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathna (SSS), demanding price hike for milk farmers, set ablaze a truck of Rajhans Milk Shop in Washim's Malegaon on Monday. The driver later escaped the fire without any injuries. Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana has threatened to block milk supply to prominent cities in Maharashtra from Sunday midnight as a part of their agitation to demand a higher price for cow's milk. Farmers across the state have been told to start blocking milk tankers headed to prominent cities.
#WATCH: Workers of Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathna set ablaze a truck of Rajhans Milk Shop in Washim's Malegaon. Driver later escaped the fire without any injuries. The organisation is demanding price hike for milk farmers. #Maharashtra pic.twitter.com/LOSyim9oLj— ANI (@ANI) July 16, 2018
Milk tankers were stopped on Monday in several districts of Maharashtra by protesters demanding hike in procurement price, even as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis disapproved of the agitation.
The agitators stopped milk tankers in various places and emptied them on roads as a mark of protest.
Impact of the protest was also felt on the Amul dairy's collection centres at Vasai and Virar towns in the neighbouring Palghar district as the cooperative giant decided not to collect milk from farmers on Monday.
Farmers' organisations are demanding a hike of Rs 5 per litre in milk procurement price and have decided to suspend the supply to Mumbai and Pune from Monday.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana chief Raju Shetti, who is spearheading the protest, said they were compelled to take up the agitation as the state government did not pay heed to their demands.
"We are not happy to waste milk but the government is protecting dairies and not considering farmers' woes," he alleged.
"We have decided to protest out of compulsion as other ways to convince the government failed," Shetti said.
The agitation will intensify further if the state government fails to fulfil the demands, the Lok Sabha member from Kolhapur warned.
Members of various farmers' organisations decided to escalate their protest today after they noticed that despite their opposition, several dairies were planning to supply milk to major cities like Mumbai and Pune.
The farmers' organisations stopped milk tankers in various districts of western Maharashtra and emptied the vehicles on roads.
Farmers have demanded a hike in milk purchase price by Rs 5 per litre, to which the state government, as well as dairies, have objected.
The districts of Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara and Pune in western Maharashtra -- the epicentre of the agitation -- are the major milk producers and suppliers to Mumbai and other major cities.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Dairy Development, Mahadev Jankar on Monday urged all the protesting farmers to end their demonstration. He further said that the government will provide them a subsidy of Rs 50 on per kg of milk powder and Rs 5 on per liter milk for export.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minster Devendra Fadnavis disapproved of the agitation launched by milk suppliers and said the government was open for talks on any issue.
Assuring that milk supply would not be affected, he said the government has not adopted an "egoistic view" on any issue.
"Our doors are always open for discussion. The government has not adopted an egoistic view on any issue. But the way the current protest is going on, is not right," the Chief Minister told reporters in Nagpur. Fadnavis also did not favour the idea of transferring subsidy to the milk producers directly.
"Only 40 per cent of the milk producers are registered with the body representing them. The remaining 60 per cent are not registered. So, direct transfer (of subsidy amount) may lead to a kind of scam," he said.
Ajit Nawale of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha, which works for farmers' rights, had said the agitation will intensify further if the state government failed to procure milk at higher prices or did not give special subsidy to milk farmers.
Meanwhile, the Nashik administration on Monday asked dairy associations in the district to continue supplying milk to cities like Mumbai and assured police protection to these convoys.
Nashik Collector Radhakrishnan B informed that 15 milk trucks were dispatched early today morning to Mumbai under police protection.
"If milk associations face any problem while transporting milk outside, they should inform the police and the district administration. Police protection would be provided to milk transport vehicles," he told reporters in Nashik.
He asked these associations to give the authorities their milk movement timetable so that the logistics for providing police protection could be put in place.
Radhakrishnan was speaking to the press after holding a meeting with dairy cooperatives here to find a solution to the problems caused by the farmers' agitation.
The meeting was attended by Nashik Superintendent of Police Sanjay Darade and other senior officials of the local administration. Radhakrishnan said that milk supply to Mumbai from Nashik was "regular" at the moment.
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