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Munda asks Nitish to end milky mess

Ranchi, Sept. 29: Jharkhand chief minister Arjun Munda today wrote a letter to Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar urging him to take steps to end the stalemate between the two states on the ownership of properties of Bihar State Co-operative Milk Producers’ Federation Limited, popularly known as Comfed.

“The two states could not reach an agreement on the issue of ownership of Comfed-controlled dairies and cattle feed plant and hence the matter is now with the Supreme Court. I request you to kindly take steps in solving the issue,” Munda said in his letter.

In November 2001, Jharkhand government had declared Comfed’s assets — Ranchi Dairy, Bokaro Dairy, Jamshedpur Dairy and Cattle Feed plant in the state capital — as its own, using Sections 41 and 42 (pertaining to distribution of assets between the two states) of Bihar State Re-organisation Act, 2000. However, Comfed did not accept the orders and in 2003 moved Jharkhand High Court.

In June 2003, the high court ruled in favour of Comfed. But soon afterwards, Jharkhand government challenged the high court judgment in the Supreme Court.

Ranchi, Bokaro and Jamshedpur diaries and the Cattle Feed plant are now in use by Comfed, which procures milk from villages and processes and sells it to the state’s consumers.

Munda has written that Jharkhand has several milk producers’ co-operatives that cover all the 24 districts of the state. As many as 1,601 milk producers’ samitis functioning at the village level are associated with the co-operatives, linking more than 48,000 milk producing families.

“The state government has also started the process of forming and registering Jharkhand State Co-operative Milk Producers’ Federation Limited (Milkfed),” Munda’s missive stated.

At present, Jharkhand produces 48 lakh litres of milk a day, most of which are sold by farmers.

The state government, through Jharkhand Dairy Project, now procures around 15,000 litres of milk from farmers daily and sells it mainly to urban consumers under the brand name of Medha.

On the other hand, Comfed procures around 95,000 litres of milk a day from producers of Jharkhand and sells it under the brand name of Sudha.

“Demand for milk is growing everyday. If the dispute between the two states on the issue of dairy and the Cattle Feed plant are mutually resolved and Bihar hands them to us, we can engage more farmers,” said an official of the state animal husbandry and fishery department.