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Milk offer to burn hole in govt pocket

Ranchi, April 29: After its proposal to supply schools with Frooti, a drink based on mango-pulp, as a supplement to the mid-day meal ran into rough weather, Swastik Food Products and Beverages, promoted by the Sarawgis, is ready with its next venture.

It is now eager to supply milk to school students in collaboration with Swedish firm, Tetra Pak.

The company plans to provide 200 ml packaged milk at the rate of Rs 7 in different flavours inlcluding chocolate, vanilla, rose etc. with vitamins added into it.

Swastik’s initial offer to supply Frooti to school students had met with stiff opposition with educationists, administrators and dieticians questioning the wisdom of supplying it as a health drink. Milk or eggs, they suggested, would be better substitutes if the government must spend money.

It is not clear if the Sarawgis are serious or the plan is just to spite its critics but Vijay Sarawgi of Swastik Group claimed that representatives of the Swedish company, who visited the city recently, are interested in setting up a plant somewhere around Ranchi.

Sarawgis, he said, have offered them the use of their already existing plant at Tatisilwai, where Frooti, Appyfizz etc are produced. “We are already dealing with the company as the equipment and packaging material for our Frooti plant are also from Tetra Pak. An additional investment of about Rs 30 crore will be needed for the proposed joint venture milk project and we are planning to rope in state welfare and HRD departments so that a ready market will be available,” said Sarawgi.

Tetra Pak , he pointed out, already supplies nutritious and hygienic ready-to-drink milk directly from sterilised antiseptic packages in several countries. The company, he said, plans to promote dairies in the state and for that negotiations with the animal husbandry department will be initiated in the near future.

Officials of the Sweden-based firm, he informed, have even given a presentation before the state deputy chief minister Sudhir Mahto a few months ago.

Although the deputy chief minister reportedly appreciated the plans, he could not take any decision as the matter pertained to HRD, welfare and animal husbandry departments, which are not looked after by him. The project, hinted Sarawgi, will not take off unless a ready market is assured.

Government officials ruled out their involvement in the project, though. When natural milk is being sold at Rs 15 in the state, they asked, why would the state government agree to buy milk at Rs 35 per litre from the Sarawgis '

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