Milk producers against meet

Kalimpong, May 9: Milk producers in the hills, under the banner of Himalayan Farmers’ Front, have urged Darjeeling MP Dawa Narbula not to accompany a delegation of Himul workers to a meeting with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

The delegation comprising members of the Intuc-affiliated Himul Employees’ Association (HEA) is expected to discuss with Bhattacharjee the various ways and means to revive Himalayan Milk Producers’ Union Limited (Himul).

The Hill Employees’ Union, another body of Himul workers (not producers) affiliated to the GNLF, has refused to be a part of the team.

The hill farmers feel that the HEA initiative should not have come at a time when they are agitating for a better milk price. “Their concern also lies in the fact that Himul is a co-operative society and bypassing the board of directors is a violation of cooperative rules,” the farmers stated in a letter to the Congress MP.

The front has been holding a series of protest programmes since April 23 demanding an increase in the price of milk from the present Rs 6 to Rs 8.50 per litre to a minimum of Rs 12 per litre.

HEA president Shankar Malakar said over phone from Siliguri that the delegation will ask the chief minister to take steps to revive Himul.

“While the government is busy wooing other industries, it is sounding the death knell for an already established entity like Himul,” Malakar said.

The farmers’ front on the other hand maintained that the only way to save Himul was by giving the right price to milk producers. “Himul cannot survive on government subsidies, but by advocating democratic policies and looking after the welfare of the producers,” the letter added.


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