It was mixed with caustic soda, washing powder, sugar and tapioca powder

When the police received a tip-off on Saturday night about the movement of some suspicious milk trucks near Kalasipalyam market, they had no idea that they would stumble upon a well-oiled, multi-crore racket.

They impounded 266 barrels, each containing 40 litres of milk that had been smuggled into the city from Tamil Nadu. A spot inspection revealed that the truck drivers did not have the necessary documentation such as permits and licences to justify the huge quantity of milk.

But this was just the beginning. Surprise in the police ranks made way for alarm when officials of the Karnataka Milk Federation put the liquid to the test. “They have adulterated the milk with caustic soda (also used to unclog drains), washing powder (for the froth), sugar and tapioca powder,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) S.N. Siddramappa, who led the operation.

Samples of the “milk” have been sent for testing to identify traces of more toxic chemicals such as Formalin or Formaldehyde and the fertilizer urea, said police sources.

According to the police, four trucks brought the adulterated milk into the city from Tamil Nadu. Upon questioning, the accused allegedly told the police that there are factories specialising in manufacturing adulterated milk in places such as Erode, Bhavani and Karur in Tamil Nadu.

Huge demand

As the public suffered with each upward swing in the prices of essential commodities, these factories saw a spike in the demand for their illicit produce. Those purchasing it knew fully well that the milk was adulterated, said the police.

“Their biggest customers were hotels and restaurants. Some milkmen also purchased the stuff and sold it to unsuspecting customers as they went door-to-door,” said Mr. Siddaramappa. The milkmen and restaurant owners purchased the adulterated milk at Rs. 10 to 15 less than the market price, he said.

Seven persons have been arrested in this connection and have been produced before a magistrate. “This haul appears to be just the tip of the iceberg. We are getting information that this is part of a multi-crore and inter-State racket,” said Mr. Siddramappa.

More In: Bengaluru