Dairy farmers in Maharashtra today called off their four-day-old strike after the state government announced the rate of Rs 25 per litre for milk, paving the way for regular supply of the essential commodity.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader and MP Raju Shetti, who spearheaded the agitation, met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis here tonight and announced lifting of the stir, which had to some extent affected milk supply to cities like Mumbai and Pune.
Mr Shetti's declaration followed the government's announcement on the floor of the Assembly that milk would be purchased from farmers at the rate of Rs 25 per litre from July 21 onwards.
Federations of milk suppliers and processors' bodies are supposed to buy milk from farmers at the said rate.
The government announced the decision after deliberations on the issue among Fadnavis, Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade, Leader of the Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil (Congress), Ajit Pawar (NCP) and representatives of the co-operative and private bodies of milk suppliers and processors.
Speaking in the Assembly this evening, Dairy Development Minister Mahadev Jankar said, "Subsidy would not be given to milk sold in pouches... For the milk not sold in pouches, Rs 5 per litre conversion subsidy would be given."
"The subsidy would go to either the milk supplying body or the one converting it," he said.
The minister clarified that milk powder producers, who will avail Rs 5 per litre subsidy, would not be entitled to get incentive subsidy for export.
On July 10, the government had announced that milk powder and milk would be getting incentive subsidies of Rs 50 (per kg) and Rs 5 (per litre), respectively, for export.
Apparently referring to that decision, the minister said, "Those milk powder producers, who will avail Rs 5 per litre subsidy, won't get incentive subsidy for export".
Welcoming the decision after his meeting with Fadnavis at the latter's official residence here, Mr Shetti told reporters, "We call of the agitation... The farmers will get Rs 25 minimum rate instead of Rs 14 to Rs 20 per litre they used to get till now".
He, however, said the Sanghatana would keep an eye on whether the farmers actually get the rate as announced.
Mr Shetti said several proposals were made to the government as the farmers pressed for their demands during the protest, which had turned violent at some places with the protesters torching tankers and spilling milk on streets, before the solution was reached.
Mr Shetti, however, appeared defending the protest, saying, "The farmers work hard. They get angry if injustice is done to them".
The government has already announced that the cases filed against farmers charging them with dacoity would be withdrawn.
The major milk-producing districts of Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Ahmednagar and Nashik supply bulk of the stock to Mumbai and Pune. Some units in Thane and Palghar also supply milk to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
Yesterday, Mr Shetti had vowed to stop trains carrying milk to the state from Gujarat.
A Western Railway official earlier said milk tankers would be attached to the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Central passenger train to mitigate problems faced by consumers.
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