Government hasn’t given nod, KMF to hold emergency meet

Nandini milk consumers can rest easy for now. The Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), which proposed to hike the price of milk by Rs. 4 a litre, is yet to get approval from the State government. Stung by the “no response” from the government, the federation is now seeking an emergency board meeting to discuss the issue.

The KMF Board, on January 21, had resolved to hike the milk price and sent the proposal to the government, hoping to implement the new price from February 1. The present cost for a litre of Nandini toned milk is Rs. 24 a litre.

Move

However, in a sudden move, KMF managing director Harsh Gupta was transferred out on Saturday. Mr. Gupta had been appointed only a couple of months ago after the KMF Board unanimously sought the appointment of an IAS officer to manage its affairs following alleged corruption in cattle-feed purchase and other irregularities.

“A notice calling for an emergency meeting should have been issued today. However, with Mr. Gupta transferred out, the notice will now have to be issued by the new MD, which will take time,” a source in the KMF said.

Fresh proposal possible

Indicating that the emergency meeting would discuss raising the price unilaterally without getting the consent of the government, sources said, “otherwise, the board may decide to send a fresh proposal and follow it up vigorously,”

Dilemma

However, another official said earlier price hikes have come into effect only after government’s approval. The government has, in the past, not agreed for a price hike. “With political instability and elections approaching, it is a dicey decision for the government. A price hike will alienate consumers and if there is no hike, farmers will resent it,” the official said.

Animal Husbandry clueless

According to sources in the Department of Animal Husbandry, the proposal to hike milk price has not yet come before the department. “Generally, the proposal is sent through the Cooperation Department and comes to the Animal Husbandry Department before being placed in the Cabinet,” sources said.

Transfer opposed

Terming the transfer of Mr. Gupta as politically motivated, P. Nagaraju, KMF Board member, said they would oppose it. “This move is to suit the needs of the government, which is surviving on a wafer-thin majority,” he said.

Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha president Kodihalli Chandrashekar, who expressed disappointment over the delay in increasing the milk price, also said the transfer was done with an intention to mask the irregularities in the federation.

On the price hike issue, he said: “KMF chairman G. Somashekar Reddy had promised us that the price would be hiked from February 1 even if the government does not give its consent.”

He added that they would wait till the budget and then decide on the future course of action.