Why defunct Kurla Dairy is a sitting duck for land sharks

By 2017, all 540 employees of the State diary would have retired. The government, meanwhile, will be sitting on real estate worth Rs 2,500 crore

In 2017, the government’s inaction to upgrade Kurla Dairy will gift them a premium land of 27 acres worth nearly Rs 2500 crore, at Nehru Nagar. The state dairy, whose operations have been shut since February 2014, is a sitting duck for land sharks.

The defunct Kurla Dairy. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The defunct Kurla Dairy. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

In the next three years, the defunct dairy will have no employees left since all of them are set to retire by then. According to real estate experts, there is political agenda at play.

The diary’s proximity to the Santacruz-Chembur link road (it passes through the property in fact), Kurla Railway Terminus and State Transport Bus Depot, makes it a prime location. According to Shashank Sutar, union leader, Kurla Dairy, “The dairy has around 540 workers.

Of these, nearly 140 will retire by this December. A similar number will retire at the end of 2016 and 2017 respectively. This means the dairy will die a natural death in two years.” The Aarey Dairy machinery was purchased from Denmark 45 years ago and never upgraded.

“All the three cream separator machines have been non-functional for years. Each machine costs over Rs 2 crore,” said Sutar, adding that in February 2014, the only operational separator also developed glitches, leading to a total shut down.

“When a tender for repairs was floated in June last year, only one company came forward, but the work was never allotted as the said company did not submit a VAT certification document to the Dairy Department,” added Sutar. Thiry workers have been shifted to Worli Dairy, which produces 17,000 litres of milk a day.

Ghee in cold storage
Between December 2014 and February 2015, Kurla Dairy managed to produce 35 tonnes of Aarey ghee. Till date, they have been able to sell only three tonnes.

The rest, costing close to Rs 1.2 crore, is lying in cold storage. Vijay Sonawane, president of the Brihanmumbai Milk Scheme, said “Maharashtra once had 29 government-owned dairies, out of which only four to five are operational. The government can easily replace the faulty separator machine with any unused machines from the dairies that have shut down.”

Sonawane added, “We have requested the government to absorb the employees within the diary department, but the decision is still pending.” He is hopeful that the present government will reconsider the notification passed in 2002 by the previous government stating that the state run dairies should be handed over to co-operative run dairies.

Dairy Development Commissioner YE Kerure said, “We have to wait for the government to take a decision. Selling the existing ghee in stock is not a problem. We have even supplied ghee for the ongoing Kumbh mela in Nasik.”

Cost to dairy

Salary: Approximate Rs 60 lakh per month
Water charges: Rs 2 lakh per month
Electricity charge: Rs 6 lakh per month
Diesel for Dairy Manager jeep: Approximate Rs 10,000

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