Private tankers facilitating milk supply for Aavin, the Tamil Nadu Co-operative Milk Producers’ Federation (TCMPF), went on strike from Friday midnight. The strike has been called due to unrevised contract rates for transporting milk for the past one year. Aavin’s management, however, has assured people that milk supply will not be interrupted.
According to The Hindu, Aavin’s Managing Director M Vallalar has said that in addition to Aavin’s own fleet of 60 tankers, 120 private tankers from neighbouring states have been mobilised to handle the situation. Tamil Nadu Milk Dealers’ Employees’ Welfare Association district leader SA Ponnusamy, however, is of the opinion that the impact will surely be felt on Monday if the strike is not called off.
According to sources, about 300 tankers facilitate supply between milk societies in villages to Bulk Milk Coolers (BMC) and from BMC to Chilling Centres/Dairies in the state. According to Aavin’s website there are 356 BMC units, 35 Chilling Centres and 18 Union Dairies.
SA Ponnusamy says, “When the strike was announced on Friday midnight, the tankers were on their way and so Aavin might have stocked up a little. With this stock they have managed Saturday and Sunday. If the negotiations were to go south, the situation will worsen on Monday,” he explains adding “Since Chennai is the headquarters, the impact will be sharply felt.”
In 2018, the average milk procurement per day was 33.23 lakh litres. While 12 lakh litres of milk is delivered to Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram on a daily basis, all the other districts on the whole are supplied 13 lakh litres daily.
According to Ponnusamy, a contract to fix transportation costs is drawn every two years and that the previous contract that expired on December 2018 has not been renewed yet. “In 2011, the rates were Rs 27.60 per kilometre and in 2013 this changed to Rs 32.50 per kilometre. In 2016, because the contract rates were reduced, the transportation rates too were brought down to the old rates of Rs 27.60. This has been the same since. When they were called to discuss the new contract a few days ago, Aavin had asked them to reduce the rates further,” he explains.
“These rates were fixed when diesel cost was Rs 45 in 2011. Now diesel rates have increased by Rs 30. How can it be managed?” he asks.
Ponnusamy further alleges that Aavin’s indirect intent is to favour the state’s distribution contract to a private supplier. “The non-renewal of contract, failure to increase rates are the indirect strategies they are using to favour this private distribution contractor,” he alleges.