They came in large numbers from villages in and around the city, Bangalore Rural and Ramanagaram. They were counting on a Sankranti gift — that of announcement of a hike in milk price and subsidy for milk producers and cattle feed — from the government. Their hopes were dashed, when Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar only assured them of looking into their demands.
Hundreds of milk producers had gathered at a convention organised here on Sunday by Bangalore Milk Union Ltd. (BAMUL) where chairperson of the Karnataka Milk Federation G. Somashekar Reddy and BAMUL president C. Manjunath sought an increase in the subsidy for cattle feed and support price for milk producers, besides an increase in the milk price.
Mr. Reddy said that though the KMF passed a resolution seeking a hike in the milk price by at least Rs. 5 a litre six months ago, the government was yet to approve it. Stating that the price of milk was lowest in Karnataka, he suggested setting up of “Nandini Bank” so that milk producers could avail themselves of loans from there, instead of nationalised banks where the interest rate was high. He also suggested that all milk producers be covered under the Vajpayee Arogyasri scheme while seeking the government’s help in setting up a “mega dairy” in Bangalore.
Rubbishing allegations, levelled by a few directors, of misappropriation of funds in the purchase of cattle feed, he charged that there was a lobby by some cattle feed suppliers.
Mr. Manjunath said milk production increased in the State after the government started giving support price to milk producers. In BAMUL region, milk production was 11.85 lakh litres a day. However, with the increase in power and water tariffs and petrol and diesel prices, the cost of production had gone up. He urged Mr. Shettar to increase the support price to at least Rs. 3 a litre from the current Rs. 2.
He sought land from the government to set up a plant for fodder production and hostels for children of milk producers who come to Bangalore to pursue education.
He also sought allotment of land as compensation for the land that was acquired by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) to construct the dairy circle flyover. “Four civic amenity sites measuring 10 gunta each can be given, which will be used to set up cold storage units,” he said.
A memorandum listing their demands was submitted to Mr. Shettar and Minister for Home and Transport R. Ashok. Mr. Ashok said: “We must prevent cows from becoming mere commodities of trade. If we don’t take action now, there may be no more cows left.”
Ministers B.N. Bache Gowda, Aravind Limbavali and C.P. Yogeshwar, and MLAs M. Krishnappa and S.R. Vishwanath were present.