SALEM: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami said on Sunday that his government had no option but to hike the ‘Aavin’ milk prices for the consumers, as production costs for dairy farmers had gone up forcing the state to increase the procurement price for milk sourced from cooperatives.
Speaking to reporters here after participating in various functions, Mr Palaniswami said, the Opposition leader M.K. Stalin had pressed in the Assembly that the milk producers demand for hiking procurement price should be met.
“I had then said in the Assembly itself that government would increase the procurement price for milk producers, but at the same time the selling price of milk (for consumers) would also go up,” added Mr Palaniswami.
The CM told reporters in Salem that the quantum of hike was determined taking into account not only the increase in procurement price but also the other inputs such as the cost appreciation in Aavin operations. The CM’s explanation appeared to be a reply to what MDMK chief Vaiko had earlier said that the quantum of price hike for consumers should have been the same as the quantum of hike of procurement price paid to the farmer.
“I welcome the increase in the procurement price paid to farmers because the farming community is going through a lot of problems,” Vaiko had said. This apart, Aavin has to take care of other input costs. Otherwise, it would end up in deep red, just as the electricity board and the transport department, he had said.
Justifying the government’s move to increase milk prices, Mr. Palaniswami said since the last five years prices have gone up across all sectors. “During the five years, the prices of cattle feed and maintenance charges increased. It was due to these reasons that the government decided to increase the milk procurement prices,” he told reporters at the Salem airport. Mr. Palaniswami said the government decided to increase the selling price of milk per litre by `6 per
after calculating the procurement price and retail price.
“Everyone knows that prices have gone up across sectors in the last five years. When that is the situation, isn’t it also necessary to increase the price of milk procurement,” he asked.
The AIADMK government on Saturday announced a revision of milk prices with procurement prices going up by ` 4 per litre for cow’s milk and by `6 per litre for buffalo milk. Besides, the retail selling price of milk across variants was also increased by the government by `6 per litre. The previous revision in milk prices was in 2014, when the state government hiked it by `10 per litre following demands from milk producers.
Opposition parties slam government
The Opposition parties including the DMK, Congress and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam slammed the government’s move and demanded a rollback of the hike.
DMK leader M.K. Stalin said it was the government’s responsibility to ensure quality of milk and it was wrong on their part to tax working and middle class people.
AMMK leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran said, “It is possible to increase procurement prices without increasing selling price by regulating administrative malpractice and by proper functioning of the milk producers’ union.”
Responding to a query on the charges made by the opposition parties, Mr. Palaniswami said Dairy Development Minister (K. T. Rajenthra Balaji) had requested him to increase the milk procurement prices, as it had not been revised in the last five years.
State Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar, said that milk producers have claimed that they are making losses and in order to address their concerns, the government had increased the price of milk in the State....