The milk procurement by the State-owned Aavin had fallen below 20 lakh litres a day across the State from 23 lakh litres a day, a reliable source in the Aavin said on Monday.

Referring to complaints that non-cardholders of Aavin were unable to procure milk packets through its outlets in many southern districts, the source attributed the situation to the fall in arrivals from the milk producers unions. “Our first priority is to supply milk to cardholders without any interruption,” the source said.

The Aavin, which has its units in 17 different locations in the State, procured 23 lakh litres of milk daily. Though the dip was attributed to various factors, the steady fall was more due to monsoon failure, abnormal rise in temperature, foot-and-mouth disease which hit the animals in many regions, including Madurai, Erode and Dindigul.

Despite the State government’s claims that it had given away one lakh milch animals to beneficiaries under the freebies scheme, there was no appreciable rise in the output, an Aavin official in Chennai told The Hindu over phone.

A trade union functionary said that the Aavin had achieved an all-time high of 27 lakh litres a day in 1999, when Mohan Varghese Chunkath was the Secretary, holding charge of the Aavin.

Though some of the units of Aavin like Madurai had reported profits, lack of accountability and wrong management practices were seen as the prime reasons for the fall in procurement now in many of its units, and some have already turned red.

Sources said many milk producers in Theni belt sold their produce to private merchants from Kerala, who offered a higher price.

This had given room for private players to capture Aavin’s market share without much difficulty. Thus, the Aavin Madurai which had been procuring close to 1.80 lakh litres a day till two months ago, could procure only 1.51 lakh litres a day now, the sources added. If the situation was not changed immediately, the arrivals might fall further.

The State government should procure milk from other sources as done in Karnataka and Gujarat and ensure that milk was available in all its outlets, a trade union functionary said.

Already, there was a shortage of drinking water and complaints of unannounced power shutdowns in many districts. The government should prevent milk shortage at once, he urged.

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