Sunday , 24 February 2019

A Dairy That Produces Packets Of Scams

A chain of scams has unfolded in the Goa Dairy bringing more disrepute to the state’s largest milk producer. A probe conducted by the Registrar of Cooperative Societies has discovered evidence of shameless violations of laws, bylaws, government circulars and norms. Decisions have been taken and payments have been made for purchase of machines, materials and milk from outside during the five years from 2012-2017 on a highly questionable and arbitrary basis. Even in making recruitment of lower division clerks (LDCs), rules and norms were thrown to the winds to appoint favourites who did not know how to do the job for which they were hired.

The Goa State Cooperative Milk Producers Union, which owns the Goa Dairy, bought five fillpack machines of higher capacity (6,000 packets per hour) to replace its old machines of lower capacity (5,000 packets per hour), but in reality only three old machines were replaced. What happened to the other two higher capacity machines? Why is the Goa Dairy continuing to use the two old, lower capacity machines? Why did not the directors on the board of the Goa Dairy take action against the concerned officials? There is also a question mark over the choice of a particular manufacturer/supplier of higher capacity machines. No proper evaluation of comparative pricing of higher capacity fillpack machines offered by different companies was done before selecting a particular company. What is more, higher capacity machines were purchased with the objective of increasing the quantity of milk packets produced per day. However, no such increase in the quantity of milk packets produced was recorded.

The chain of scams is believed to have caused the Goa Dairy a considerable loss. The Goa State Cooperative Milk Producers Union is a cooperative but it has obviously fallen into the hands of a coterie that appears to be taking decisions without any fear of the law catching up on them. The union appointed a managing director who did not have the professional eligibility for the position. How was he appointed by the board? What happens usually in the world of vice is that the controlling group splits owing to differences on the sharing of the booty, and this seems to have happened in the Goa State Cooperative Milk Producers Union too. Allegations and counter allegations by the rival groups have been flying about for the past few years. There have been dismissals and outings of directors from the board. The inquiry by the Registrar of Cooperative Societies has noted with concern that the members of the board who were there during the period of the probe, 2012-2017, which is the period in which the chain of scams took place, had been elected again for another term. These directors were accountable for the violations and will obviously not allow any fair probe into them. It is to them that the Registrar of Cooperative Societies has sent show cause notices to explain why action should not be taken to disqualify them as directors and also from the society which they represent and why should not the union recover the difference amount from them for approving higher quotations for purchases.

The sorry picture that emerges from the chain of scams in the Goa State Cooperative Milk Producers Union is that Goa is decelerated in its journey toward self-sufficiency in milk, when the need is to accelerate it as much as possible. Goa depends on Maharashtra and Karnataka to fulfill its milk requirements. The government and the dairy farmers are trying to do as best as they can to make Goa self-sufficient in milk. Thanks to government incentives, milk production in Goa rose from 66,000 litres per day in 2016-17 to 72,000 litres per day in 2017-18. The rise suggested movement toward self-sufficiency in milk production. The rise was attributed mainly to the government’s Kamdhenu scheme in which the state provided financial assistance for purchase of milk cattle. Cattle melas were organized across the state in which cattle of different breeds brought from different parts of the country were showcased for Goan dairy farmers to choose the best cattle to buy. Under the scheme, farmers purchased about 1,560 cattle in 2017-18 against about 1,400 in 2016-17. To make Goa self-sufficient in milk production, the government provides incentives for milk purchase as well as for cattle feed. The government has set up an e-clearance system in which a subsidy/incentive of 40 per cent is directly deposited into the farmer’s bank account once milk is sold to dairy cooperatives. However, as long as an allegedly corrupt coterie controls the Goa Dairy, all efforts to make Goa self-sufficient in milk will fail.

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