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Hill blow to milk supply

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  • Published 23.01.09

Siliguri, Jan. 23: Supply of milk in the plains and regular production of a state-run dairy plant here have been hit by the ongoing Gorkhaland movement in the hills.

“We used to get 20,000 litres of milk daily for the Himalayan Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Ltd. But for the past six months, we have been facing a shortage of about 6,000 to 8,000 litres every day because of the movement,” Anisur Rahaman, the Bengal animal resource development minister, said after inaugurating two chilling units of a Himul plant at Bagdogra today. “We are trying to meet this shortage by collecting milk from the Jalpaiguri district and Siliguri subdivision.”

The shortage in milk supply has also affected the production of paneer, curd and ghee in a Himul plant at Matigara. “It has led to irregularity in supply of these products to local markets. We have thought of talking to the suppliers to sort out this problem and regularise the supply,” the minister said.

The chilling units opened today at Bagdogra have been set up at a cost of Rs 16 lakh. Each unit has the capacity to cool 500 litres, officials said.

The Matigara plant was set up in 1976. Currently, around 300 workers are working there. The minister today threw lights on reviving the plant by adopting a number of measures.

“We have sanctioned Rs 2 crore for development and modernisation of the plant. Decision has been taken to appoint skilled people in different management posts and restructure the manpower,” Rahaman said. “Earlier, the employees have demanded a managing director for the plant and we have appointed a person to the post. As the plant was established long ago, modern machinery will be installed to increase the production.”

The minister said the government was also working on a proposal of introducing voluntary retirement schemes for the Himul employees. “However, we need to discuss this with the workers’ unions before taking any decision.”