Thursday, August 16, 2007 (Mumbai)

A huge scam seems to have been uncovered in Maharashtra's government dairies, thanks to the Right to Information Act.

32 dairies across Maharashtra have a combined processing capacity of 800 lakh liters every month.

From January to April this year, these dairies have only managed to sell a mere 18 lakh liters of milk.

But figures show there are huge discrepancies between the amount of milk that has been sold and the salaries that have been paid to dairy workers.

How much does one liter of milk cost the Maharashtra government in salaries that it pays to its employees in government dairies?

A whopping one hundred and sixty rupees, if figures supplied by the dairy development board are to be believed.

Using the right to information activist Shailesh Gandhi tried to find out the workings of 32 government dairies in the state for a period of four months, from January to April 2007.

And the findings were shocking.

Glaring figures

Worli Dairy for example can process four and a half lakh liters of milk per day but in January it procured only a little over one and a half lakh liters which was sold and salaries paid were over six lakh rupees.

In April it procured less milk than in January, sold even less but paid an enormous one crore seventy lakh rupees as salary!

Some of these dairies like the one in Satara has neither procured milk nor sold it, from January to April this year but it has still paid salaries ranging from rupees 8 lakh to 28 lakh!

''The total production of four months is less than one day's capacity of dairies and when I saw the total salaries and milk they had sold the answer is over 160 rupees a liter,'' said Shailesh Gandhi, activist.

The findings of this RTI have thrown up many questions like, why is there a huge difference in the salaries paid by these dairies every month?

Is it a systematic loot of public money or an attempt at privatizing these dairies, the answer lies with the perpetrators of this scam. Maharashtra: Dairy scam looms large