Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has asked milk cooperative societies and distributors to slash milk prices by Rs 2 to Rs 5, dairy development minister Eknath Khadse said today.

"I have directed the milk co-operative societies and distributors to slash the market price of milk by Rs 2 to Rs 5 as they have been earning more than double the procurement rates," Khadse told reporters here.

"These milk distributors have been procuring milk from farmers at Rs 14 - Rs 16 while their market ranges between Rs 40 to Rs 60," he said.

The issue of falling milk prices was raised by leader of opposition in Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde during the budget session of the state legislature in March.

Khadse said that the government is also prepared to promulgate an ordinance for providing a fixed rate of Rs 20 per litre to milk-producing farmers who are facing difficult times owing to the steep fall in milk prices.

"We will take a strict action against the milk procurement centres which pay the milk producers at less than the prescribed rate. Criminal cases would be filed against the procurement centres which pay less than Rs 20 a litre.

It will be non-bailable offence based on Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA,)" the minister said.

He claimed that the milk distributors have also agreed to reduce market prices.

He said the procurement institutions purchase milk at cheap rates from farmers and sell it to consumers at high price.