Hundreds of dairy farmers from Ludhiana and neighboring districts in Malwa region staged a protest against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government led by Bhagwant Mann, for reneging on their promise, on the second day in a row outside the factory of milk from Verka on the road to Ferozepur here
In order to register their protest, the dairy farmers had parked their cart in front of the factory’s main gate and did not allow vehicles to enter and leave. However, the milk factory authorities used an alternate entrance to ensure an uninterrupted milk supply.
Daljit Singh Sadarpura, president of the Progressive Dairy Farmers Association (PDFA), said more than 20,000 farmers joined the protest on Thursday.
He said the problem was not new, adding that “for four years the price at which milk is bought from farmers has not been revised, but the cost of fodder has doubled. If the revised rates are applied, the government is liable to pay ₹123 crores to dairy farmers. Similarly, an outstanding amount of nearly ₹900 crores were pending against private players,” Sadarpura said.
Farmers have suffered a double whammy. “On the one hand, farmers have suffered heavy losses due to the death of livestock. Second, due to high input costs, small and marginal farmers are heavily indebted. Rubbing salt on the wounds of the dairy farmer, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led government of Punjab is not releasing the money pledged recently,” Sadarpura said.
Recently, Punjab’s Minister of Cooperation, Harpal Singh Cheema, announced in May an increase in the purchase price of milk from ₹55 per kg for dairy producers.
Harmeet Singh Kadian, chairman of the Bharatiya Kisan (Kadian) Union, said the government had agreed that although ₹ 20 was to be donated by Milkfed, ₹35 was to be released by the state government. However, the state government has yet to release the grant, he added.
“Leaving the comfort of our homes, we are all gathered here and sleeping on the road. It’s for a reason. The AAP government has attracted attention and presented itself as pro-farmers, but in reality it is becoming pro-business,” Kadian said, adding that dharna would only be lifted once farmers received the funds promised by the government.
Similar to farmers’ protests against the three controversial farm bills last year, a large number of tractors and carts had been parked under Ferozepur road flyover. PDFA arranged for food and other enmities for the farmers.
Lumpy skin disease adds to the woes
Kadian said dairy farmers are already burdened with a huge debt due to the spread of lumpy skin disease.
He added that the government had demanded funds from the BDPOs and ordered them to organize JCBs to ensure the burial of dead livestock and to keep in touch with the village sarpanches.
“However, dairy farmers spend out of pocket on the burial of cattle,” he said.