Two Sudha Dairy attendants were caught red-handed while mixing water to milk in the wee hours of Sunday, confirming fears of unsafe milk being sold in Jharkhand even as the state gears up to launch the twin food and drug safety laboratory to test the authenticity of edibles.
Ormanjhi police station in-charge K. Saryu Anand said that they acted on a tip-off. “Two milk vans were coming from Bihar. They stopped at Ormanjhi and attendants started emptying each of the two 10,000-litre milk tankers almost by half. Then, they filled water from a local source. We managed to nab attendants Dilip Kumar and Janak Sahu but the drivers fled.”
S.R. Mishra, manager of Sudha Dairy (Ranchi), said it appeared that one tanker was going to Ranchi and the other to Jamshedpur. “It is tough to monitor what the drivers and attendants of tankers are up to on various routes,” he said.
He later amended his statement, saying they did have a quality control mechanism in place. “The milk imported is tested for quality at our diary plants. If we find a difference, we penalise the transport agency. We did file a couple of cases against drivers and blacklist four transporters,” he said.
Yet, monitoring of milk tankers to Jamshedpur, Ranchi and Bokaro is a tough job. Daily, 2.5 lakh litre milk comes to Jharkhand, of which around one lakh litre goes to Jamshedpur, 90,000 litre to Ranchi and the rest to Bokaro.
For Jamshedpur and Ranchi, 40,000 litre each are sent by rail and rest by tankers on road. Bokaro gets its milk supply only by tankers via road. Monitoring en route is zero.
Sudha is the brand for milk packaged by Bihar State Co-operative Milk Producers’ Federation Ltd (Compfed), set up in 1983. Compfed is the implementing agency of Operation Flood in Bihar.
Sudha’s reputation came under glare in Jharkhand with attendants caught adulterating milk earlier in April and July this year.
Raids by state food administration and controlling department in Ranchi also confirmed adulteration in Sudha milk pouches.
Insiders say adulteration feeds a grey market of milk buyers. Drivers and attendants of tankers strike lucrative deals with roadside and highway tea stalls and dhabas, siphon milk from vans and fill the shortfall with water before reaching respective dairies for packaging.
On Sunday’s seizure, notices have been served to officials of Sudha Dairy to appear at the Ormanjhi police station.
“We had summoned them (officials) in the past. But, nothing happened. Sudha officials say they try to check movement of tankers but fail as drivers connive with locals. If drivers don’t stop, adulteration won’t be done. But everyone wants easy money,” Ormanjhi police station officer-in-charge Anand added.
How can Sudha stop milk theft midway from its tankers?