The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Milk for Mukesh

Calcutta, June 22: The Bengal government today indicated that the decision to hand over control of the state-run Haringhata dairy and farm to Reliance Industries was almost final.

Haringhata ke Reliance-i banchate pare (If anyone can save Haringhata dairy, it’s Reliance Industries),” chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said.

Talks on the chemical hub planned at Haldia did not appear to have gone that well at yesterday’s meeting between the chief minister and Reliance’s Mukesh Ambani.

Commerce and industry secretary Sabyasachi Sen said the project was “not discussed at all”, but other official sources revealed that some conditions mentioned by the company were not acceptable to the government.

At the meeting, Ambani handed a project proposal for turning around the ailing dairy where staff outnumber cattle.

“I’m still reading the plan they’ve submitted. In addition to improving the dairy infrastructure, the company has proposed to undertake a comprehensive cattle breeding programme,” the chief minister said.

Earlier, the Indonesia-based Salim Group had offered to take over the dairy and run it in collaboration with an Australian partner. Bhattacharjee, however, said he preferred the Reliance model.

The Haringhata dairy at Nadia, around 35 km from here, is located on a two-acre plot and processes around 4,000 litres of milk daily.

The dairy has more employees ' 1,500 in all ' than cattle ' around 1,000. Staff salary is Rs 5,000 on an average.

Other than the dairy, there is a poultry, a goat farm, a piggery, a bacon processing factory and an ISO 9001 certified frozen cattle semen station over 1,800 acres.

Officials said Haringhata was primarily a farm where milk was brought from outside and processed.

“Bengal is the only state where such large farms are still under government control,” said an official of the animal resources development department.

The chief minister echoed this view. He said Reliance had pledged to bring in better quality cattle which would yield 15 to 20 litres milk daily. “As of now, our cattle yield only three to four litres,” he said.

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