Tech trail? One of the Sudha milk tankers that was seized on Sunday
Sudha milk tankers may be equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) to keep tabs on their movement and prevent pilferage while on the move, something that Bihar State Co-operative Milk Producers’ Federation Ltd (COMFED) authorities are mulling after Sunday’s incident when attendants were caught siphoning in Ormanjhi.
COMFED, which came on record to say that it was “concerned” over the open pilferage of milk that feeds a grey market, is also likely to invest on its own fleet of tankers to reduce its “over-dependence” on private carriers and outsourced personnel with little or no accountability for milk transportation.
“To improve our benchmark, we may launch GPS-based technology to keep tabs on movement of milk carriers. We will buy more tankers to reduce dependence on external transport agencies,” S.R. Mishra, manager of Bihar State Milk Co-operative Federation Limited, told The Telegraph.
If GPS tracking — space-based satellite navigation system — is introduced in milk tankers, it will be easy for COMFED authorities to spot if vehicles stick to designated routes or not.
Transporters will need to explain any deviation in route or timing. So, if drivers and attendants stop midway for a cosy on-the-spot deal with a tea man or dhaba owner, the stopover as well as the place will come on record.
The GPS facility isn’t very cost-intensive. Ranchi Municipal Corporation’s outsourced agency A2Z, which has installed the tracking device in 80 garbage carriers, has invested around Rs 6 lakh and spends Rs 20,000 per month on maintenance.
COMFED, which will fund the project, so far has no idea how much it will cost to install GPS in around 10 tankers. It will invite tenders “sometime in the next couple of weeks”.
But foolproof as it sounds, the catch lies in quick implementation of the project.
Meanwhile, the duo arrested on Sunday — Dilip Sahu and Janak Sahu — on charges of adulteration have been sent to judicial custody. Ormanjhi police station in-charge K. Saryu Anand said they were investigating the chain of sellers and buyers of milk siphoned from tankers in detail.
“Probe will reveal whether officials of COMFED are involved in the entire episode or not,” he said.
State food controller T.P. Burnwal said they had collected milk samples from the seized tankers and sent them for testing. “Let the lab results come,” Burnwal said.
The lab results are likely to reveal significant percentage of water in milk. Petty pilferers add water to pad up weight once milk is stolen. But Sudha officials will be able to explain away impurities, citing milk in tankers was unprocessed.
Mishra also downplayed the adulteration angle in Sudha pouches. He claimed Dhurwa-based processing plant received milk after rigorous testing and inspection.
After all, as Sudha mandarins know too well, Jharkhand means big business. The state gets around 2.5 lakh litre Sudha milk from Bihar, with one lakh litres for Jamshedpur, 90,000 litres for Ranchi and the rest for Bokaro.
Will GPS-enabled milk tankers eliminate theft?