Monday, February 14, 2011

TN govt calls striking milk producers for talks

Chennai, February 14, 2011

Tamil Nadu government today called milk producers, on strike for the past eight days demanding hike in procurement prices, for talks on February 15.

Asking the protestors to call off their strike, Chief Minister M Kanunanidhi said, "Procurement prices had been hiked only last month following talks but that was not passed on to the consumers. But a section of milk producers had gone on strike demanding another hike".

He said the government had "no issues" to hold talks but said some political leaders and a section of media were creating an impression as if the government had not talked to them at all.

"It is regrettable that the milk producers themselves are pouring milk on the roads and even ensuring this got adequate media coverage. This government had hiked milk procurement price four times. However, we accept the suggestion that we should hold talks with them," he said in an official press release.

The milk producers are demanding a hike of Rs eight per litre for buffalo milk and Rs five for cow milk.

The government will be represented by Electricity Minister Arcot N Veerasamy, Education Minister K Ponmudi and Dairy Development Minister U Mathivanan, Mr. Karunanidhi said.

Cases filed against protestors also would be withdrawn as a "goodwill gesture," he said.

Meanwhile, supporting the milk producers, AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa described their demands as "just" as the input costs and transport expenditure had increased.

Citing reports, she said milk producers were being forced to supply milk to state-run AAVIN and that 56 private procurement centres had been sealed.

By not acting on this issue properly, the government had created a situation of scarcity of milk, she alleged and urged the government to hold talks.

Revenue Department officials in Erode, which is the main supplier of milk to Chennai, sealed five big dairies in the district after raiding them yesterday.

Officials said the raids on the dairies, which supply a combined one lakh litre of milk to the public in the district, followed reports that the milk being supplied was unhygienic.

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