Anguished by the non-fulfilment of their demands, Goa Dairy’s farmers began on Thursday an indefinite hunger strike inside the dairy complex pressing for a rollback of the hike in the cattle feed price.
Goa Dairy chairman Rajesh Phaldessai and managing Director Dr N C Sawant tried to bring a solution to the issue with the help of joint mamlatdar Abhir Hede and Ponda PI Harish Madkaikar.
However, they failed to bring about any settlement of farmers’ demands till late evening.
The farmers have been persistently demanding a rollback in the cattle feed price hike of Rs 2.5 per kg, which has been effected by the dairy. The other demands include improvement in quality of cattle feed and payment of pending incentives to farmers.
The farmers have also been demanding that the Registrar of Cooperative Societies must reveal the details of an investigation conducted by a CA.
They have also demanded that automatic machines be installed to check adulteration of milk.
The farmers, who held their grounds on Thursday, vowed to continue with the strike until their demands are fulfilled by the dairy. They said that more of their ilk will join the agitation in coming days.
Six members of farmers’ societies affiliated with the dairy initiated the indefinite hunger strike.
“We want a written assurance from the dairy chairman and the board of directors on the immediate fulfilment of our demands,” Dattaprasad Sanvordekar, an agitator, told media persons.
However, Phaldessai sought time of at least one month to examine the demands.
The managing director too said that farmers’ demands need to be examined before any decision is taken.
Around 50 farmers led by Sanvordekar reached Curti in the morning and tried to enter the dairy premises to begin their agitation inside the complex. But a strong posse of the police deployed there restrained them from entering the premises.
In fact, the police personnel outnumbered the farmers. In spite of this, the farmers stormed into the premises claiming that they are the stakeholders of the dairy, and launched their stir.
Farmers’ run-in with the police continued as they tried to put up a pandal, leading to anxious moments. Consequently the Ponda PI and the joint mamlatdar rushed to the spot and tried to pacify the protestors.
Madkaikar and Hede parleyed with Sawant to break the deadlock. Hence Sawant tried to interact with the farmers, who booed and swore at the managing director and Madkaikar.
Later in the evening, Phaldessai came to the dairy premises and held a meeting with Sawant.
He assured farmers of taking up their issue at the next board meeting, urging them to give him one month’s time to examine rollback in the hike.
He gave his statement in black and white, which failed to enthuse the agitating farmers.
Phaldessai said, “A rollback in the price hike is a big decision and I can’t take it overnight. I will have to study the matter to understand its impact on the dairy’s business. Moreover, we must convey a board meeting.”