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After curdle, cautious entry

- National milk board invited again

Ranchi, Jan. 2: Some 16 months after National Dairy Development Board left Jharkhand, the animal husbandry department has decided to reinstate it in a bid to revive the state’s milk production and fledgling brand Medha.

According to sources in Jharkhand State Milk Producers’ Cooperative Federation Ltd, under the state animal husbandry department, a formal letter of invitation to the national board is likely to be sent tomorrow.

Animal husbandry minister Mannan Mallik said he had already directed his department to send the board a letter seeking their proposal for Jharkhand and financial requirements.

“I have set certain conditions for them (the board) such as investing in Jharkhand, opening chilling plants in every district and general dos and don’ts. Once the board sends us a formal detailed proposal accepting our major conditions, we will give it a go-ahead,” said Mallik.

This development comes exactly a year after Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh — a firm believer in the board’s efficiency — wrote to both then Arjun Munda government and board chairperson Amrita Patel to work together after their angry split in September 2012.

Way back in 2007, Jharkhand had joined hands with national dairy board for five years with a two-point agenda —collection centres in 24 districts and a dairy processing plant in Hotwar — but by mid-2012, it was clear none of the two had been accomplished.

The foundation stone of the Hotwar plant had been laid in 2007 itself. The partnership between Jharkhand and the board ended on a sour note, two months before schedule, with both sides trading charges. The department accused the board of inefficiency, which the latter countered by saying it never received a climate of “cooperation” in Jharkhand to function.

Had the BJP-led government stayed, it is not sure how much headway Ramesh’s intervention would have made. But the Munda government collapsed in January 8, 2012.

Now, with the Congress as a coalition partner and party leader Mannan Mallik as the animal husbandry minister in the Hemant Soren government, the situation seems amenable for the board’s comeback.

“We are asking the board to submit a proposal on what they want to do, when do they want to start work and how they want to proceed to improve diary sector here. These apart, we are seeking finance details also. Once we have all the information, we can seek cabinet nod (to bring back the board),” said Mukul Prasad Singh, animal husbandry department’s deputy director, who also heads the state milk producers’ cooperative.

On the ouster controversy, Singh said: “See, we personally don’t have anything against the board. Its ouster was a government decision and so is its re-entry. If the board performs well, it will be good for the state. If not, the government will take the required decision,” Singh added.

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