Mumbai, July 16: The Maharashtra government on Monday requested the farmers to not participate in the milk protest. “We’ll give a subsidy of Rs 50 on each kg of milk powder and Rs 5 on each litre milk for export,” said state Minister of Dairy Development Mahadev Jankar. The Minister added, “We are trying to give 50% subsidy on milk; 40% from the Maharashtra government and 10% from the Centre.” (Also read: Mumbai, Pune to Face Milk Shortage) Also Read - Mumbai: Over 1100 Buildings, 10,797 Floors Sealed | Check Full LIST

According to a PTI report, milk tankers were blocked in several districts of Maharashtra by protesters demanding hike in procurement price, even as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis disapproved of the agitation and said the government was open to talks on any issue.
Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel has also extended his support to the agitation, said Swambhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) chief Raju Shetti who is spearheading the protest. Agitators blocked milk tankers in Pune, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Buldhana, Jalgaon and other places and emptied some of them on roads. Also Read - Lockdown in Maharashtra Soon? Read Ajit Pawar's Warning as State Logs Highest Single-day COVID Count

Farmers’ organisations are demanding a hike of Rs 5 per litre in milk procurement price and have decided to suspend milk supply to Mumbai and Pune. Shetti 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,” Shetti alleged. He said the Maharashtra government was trying to scuttle the protest by bringing milk from states likes Gujarat and Karnataka but they will make sure it does not enter the western state.  Meanwhile, members of various farmers’ organisations decided to escalate their protest after they noticed that despite their opposition, several dairies were planning to supply milk to major cities like Mumbai and Pune. (Also Read: Opposition Stages Walkout Over Government Stand)

Chief Minister Fadnavis said the government had 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,” he told reporters in Nagpur. Fadnavis also did not favour the idea of transferring subsidy to the milk producers directly. “Only 40 percent of the milk producers are registered with the body representing them. The remaining 60 percent are not registered. So, direct transfer (of subsidy amount) may lead to a kind of scam,” he said.

The Opposition Congress and the NCP also raised the issue of milk suppliers’ protest in the state Assembly and created a ruckus over it. Members of the two parties walked out of the House while accusing the government of being “anti-farmer” and “indifferent” to their plight. “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. The difference in earnings has not been passed on to the farmers,” said Shetti. (With PTI inputs)