By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Jan 2 : As the truckers spontaneous stir entered the second day, milk supply to Mumbai was badly disrupted as thousands of trucks carrying chilled milk failed to reach the city and remain stranded at various locations on the national, inter-state or state highways, officials said here on Tuesday.
Accordingly, a large number of Mumbaikars had to forego their favourite morning cuppa, either tea/coffee or even plain milk for the kids, as the local retailers could not deliver their daily quota of the creamy white nourisher, or in some areas the deliveries came very late, after 10 a.m. or so.
Most trucks transporting chilled milk from cooperatives or farms and a handful of corporates in Maharashtra’s hinterland, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh have been held over as drivers have abandoned them since January 1 morning, according to the Mumbai Milk Producers Association (MMPA).
The chilled milk is brought in insulated tankers to Mumbai daily from districts like Kolhapur, Sangli, Nashik, Satara (Maharashtra), Indore, Dewas (both Madhya Pradesh) or Anand, Banaskantha, Surat and Mehsana (all Gujarat).
“Mumbai needs around 50-60 lakh litres of chilled milk per day, of which 60 per cent is cow milk and the rest is buffalo milk. Thousands of trucks are stuck midway, some have not started with the consignment for the origin point and many more are delayed en route,” MMPA Committee Member Chandan Hausilasingh Singh said.
Chandan Singh said that each of the insulated milk-tankers have a capacity of transporting up to 20 tonnes of milk to their destinations, from where it is unloaded into mini-tankers with a capacity of two-three tonnes for distribution to the last mile retailer.
Besides the large quantities of chilled milk, Mumbai consumes another 400,000-plus litres of fresh buffalo milk, which is more expensive and creamier, but since its produced in farms in the city or on the outskirts, its supply has not been affected yet, said MMPA Committee Member C.K. Singh.
Chandan Singh, who runs the Shree Modern Dairy chain of milk retail from Vasai town in Palghar said that most people (domestic consumers) can manage for a day, but the big hoteliers, restaurants, schools-colleges, canteens in public and private sector offices, plus the humble street-corner chaiwallas stand to be worst-hit due to the temporary shortage.
In case the milk tankers are abandoned on the roads in the blazing sun for long hours, then the post-pasteurization chilled milk stocks — which usually remain unaffected for up to 100 hours (4 days), will get spoilt with no options but to throw it away entirely, cautioned Chandan Singh.
Along with the milk ‘famine’, many parts of Maharashtra are facing acute shortage of fuel — petrol and diesel — since Monday evening, and in some places it was exhausted.
This has further alarmed vehicle owners, and sent fresh chills among consumers as supplies of vegetables, fruits and foodgrain or essentials could be adversely affected and jack up prices.
Serpentine queues of vehicles are witnessed at various petrol pumps as fuel tanker drivers have also joined the agitation protesting against the new MV Act rules stipulating stringent punishment of 10 years jail and Rs 7 Lakh fine for hit-and-run accident cases.
The Maharashtra Congress President Nana Patole, Nationalist Congress Party General Secretary Dr. Jitendra Awhad, Shiv Sena (UBT)’s Kishore Tiwari, several farmers unions and transporters organisations, have strongly criticised the new law and demanded its immediate repeal.