TN govt calls striking milk producers for talks

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Chennai, Feb 14 (PTI) Tamil Nadu government today calledmilk producers, on strike for the past eight days demandinghike in procurement prices, for talks on February 15.

Asking the protestors to call off their strike, ChiefMinister M Kanunanidhi said, "Procurement prices had beenhiked only last month following talks but that was not passedon to the consumers. But a section of milk producers had goneon strike demanding another hike".

He said the government had "no issues" to hold talks butsaid some political leaders and a section of media werecreating an impression as if the government had not talked tothem at all.

"It is regrettable that the milk producers themselves arepouring milk on the roads and even ensuring this got adequatemedia coverage. This government had hiked milk procurementprice four times. However, we accept the suggestion that weshould hold talks with them," he said in an official pressrelease.

The milk producers are demanding a hike of Rs eight perlitre for buffalo milk and Rs five for cow milk.

The government will be represented by ElectricityMinister Arcot N Veerasamy, Education Minister K Ponmudi andDairy Development Minister U Mathivanan, Karunanidhi said.

Cases filed against protestors also would be withdrawn asa "goodwill gesture," he said.

Meanwhile, supporting the milk producers, AIADMK chief JJayalalithaa described their demands as "just" as the inputcosts and transport expenditure had increased.

Citing reports, she said milk producers were being forcedto supply milk to state-run AAVIN and that 56 privateprocurement centres had been sealed.

By not acting on this issue properly, the government hadcreated a situation of scarcity of milk, she alleged and urgedthe government to hold talks.

Revenue Department officials in Erode, which is the mainsupplier of milk to Chennai, sealed five big dairies in thedistrict after raiding them yesterday.

Officials said the raids on the dairies, which supply acombined one lakh litre of milk to the public in the district,followed reports that the milk being supplied was unhygienic.

PTI SA COR ARP BNARP

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