Aarey cries over spilt milk

The once profitable dairy is getting pummelled by private players due to government mismanagement and inflexible policies

The once popular Aarey Dairy is slowly losing its grip on milk supply in the city, with the number of institutions it once supplied to plunging from 450 to 130.

Adding to its troubles is the Rs 1.25 crore credit that it hasn't managed to recover from its clients. Senior dairy officials say that of Rs 1.25 crore that clients owe them, over Rs 80 lakh is due from the government (central and state) and hospitals run by the Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palika. The remaining sum is due from institutions like the Bombay Port Trust, Government Mint, and Reserve Bank of India, also run by the government.

"The scene has changed. We have only 130 clients, who buy milk in small quantities ranging from 300 litres to 500 litres daily," said State Dairy Development Commissioner R D Shinde.

Shinde said the procurement of milk stands at merely 12,000 litres, and that from Goregaon and Kurla areas is almost nil. It is this shortage that is one of the chief reasons behind the dairy losing out on big clients.

Earlier, Aarey supplied milk to the Army, Navy and the Air Force. Milk supply to the defence colonies and residential colonies in Colaba alone would amount to over 80,000 litres each day. The Navy also used to stock the milk supplied on their ships. Subsequent shortage of milk often resulted in delay in delivery, and the defense establishments resorted to changing suppliers.

The uniform sale price (no concession policy) of Aarey milk and milk products is cited as another reason for the fall in sale. "Private dairy companies gave a substantial concession to institutions. That wasn't possible in the case of Aarey," said a senior dairy department official.

The government's sluggish attitude is responsible for Aarey's woes, say its officials. A prime example of government apathy is the fact that instead of buying Energee (flavoured milk brand by Aarey), the BMC procured flavoured milk from a rival private company for the 4.50 lakh students that study in its schools.

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