Chittoor Coop Dairy revival on threshold of reality

TIRUPATI: The long-awaited revival of Chittoor Cooperative Dairy, popular as Vijaya Dairy, is set to become a reality with state government taking steps to bring the once-thriving milk factory back to life.

AP Dairy Development Cooperative Federation Limited MD Ahmed Babu, accompanied by collector S. Shanmohan and Amul Dairy representatives, inspected the Chittoor dairy plant on Wednesday to discuss in detail how to make the plant operational once again.

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is expected to inaugurate the refurbished Vijaya Dairy in Chittoor next month.

Established before Independence in 1945 as a chilling plant, it got upgraded into a cooperative dairy in 1969, with a processing capacity of 6,000 litres per day. The Chittoor dairy reached the pinnacle in early 1990s, when it procured and processed 2.5–3.0 lakh litres of milk per day.

However, a severe decline in milk prices during that time forced the dairy to convert surplus milk into powder, which ultimately resulted in financial losses. As a result, the dairy could not make payments to farmers. It abruptly downed shutters on August 31, 2002 without any notice. Although it partially reopened in 2008, it again faced setbacks and got permanently shut in 2015.

During his padayatra as leader of opposition, Jagan Mohan Reddy accused then chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu of deliberately shutting down Chittoor Dairy, so that his family-owned Heritage Foods, which also dealt in milk, could do better. Jagan vowed to revive the Chittoor dairy in case he becomes the CM.

Having become the Chief Minister, Jagan Mohan Reddy took the significant step of entrusting revival of Chittoor dairy to Indian milk conglomerate Amul. Accordingly, the government has leased the dairy and 28.3 acres of its land to Amul Dairy for a period of 99 years.

Telugu Desam leaders are now alleging that the government is intentionally harming the dairy industry in the state by handing over the dairy in cooperative sector to Amul on a lease of ₹1 crore per annum for 99 years. Opposition leaders expressed concerns over depreciation of rupee's value over time, considering the dairy's total value is over ₹500 crore.

Political analysts believe Jagan Mohan Reddy government's strategy is to achieve two objectives simultaneously – reviving the dairy and establishing a strong competitor for Heritage Foods.

With revival of the Chittoor Dairy drawing nearer, farmers, dairy staff, and consumers are hoping that the once iconic institution will see its glorious days once again.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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