All does not appear to be well in Goa Dairy, the oldest dairy in the state. It is currently witnessing a war between the chairman and his supporters on one side and eight of its directors and the managing director on the other. The war escalated after chairman Madhav Sahakari ordered suspension of managing director Navso Sawant on Tuesday, following which eight directors moved a no confidence motion against chairman. The directors have requested the registrar of co-operative societies to convene a meeting to consider the no confidence motion. Navso Sawant has refused to step down as MD on the ground that the chairman does not have the support of the majority on board of directors.
Sahakari has accused Sawant of causing a loss of Rs 8 crore during his six-year tenure with dubious purchases and other irregularities and called for a free and fair inquiry. He thinks a free and fair inquiry was not possible without dissolving the board of directors and removing Navso Sawant as managing director. The government has appointed a chartered accountant Shridhar Verenkar to inquire into the alleged financial irregularities and submit a report within three weeks. However, the government step, which was in the right direction, has been overshadowed by the side-switching of some of the members of the Goa Dairy board. They first joined hands with chairman Sahakari to call for an inquiry into the alleged massive irregularities in the purchases of fill-pack machine, machinery for ice-cream plant, milk purchased from outside the state, raw material for cattle feed, recruitment of employees and misutilization of funds received from the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). But a day after chairman Sahakari publicly accused Navso Sawant of committing irregularities causing Goa Dairy a loss of Rs 8 crore, they joined other board members to move a no confidence motion against him. There is obviously more than what meets the eye at Goa Dairy.
Managed by the Goa State Milk Producers’ Co-operative Union, Goa Dairy has been a major milk supplier in the state, selling around 85,000 litres per day. Nearly half of its milk requirement is met through various milk supply societies in the state and the rest is procured from outside the state. According to estimates, Goa has a market for 4.5 lakh litres of milk every day and Goa Dairy supplies only one-fifth of the total requirement of milk in the state. The demand for milk is growing year after year. Goa Dairy cannot afford irregularities and internal disputes. Politicking by board members and elected officials to capture power and then misuse it would leave Goa Dairy nowhere in this era of tough competition. It has to keep its house in order to meet the challenges of competition so as to not only go on increasing its market share but also add competitively attractive milk-based products.
As major allegations have been made by the chairman about loss of Rs 8 crore, the government cannot let it pass without a thorough probe and fixing of responsibility and award of penalties. The managing director cannot be allowed to stay on. With him there, we cannot hope to have a proper and impartial inquiry as he can withhold or fabricate documentary evidence in order to show he was clean. The question of no confidence motion against the chairman is altogether a different matter. If the majority of the board members do not have trust in him, he has to leave too. The government or any other institution cannot do anything in that matter. However, the managing director cannot resist his removal on some technical grounds that he can be removed only by a majority of board members. The fact is serious allegations have been made against him. He should voluntarily resign in order to facilitate a fair inquiry. Way back in 2005, a Rs 6-crore fraud was alleged in Goa Dairy. The then minister for co-operation Ramkrishna Dhavlikar promised an inquiry by the vigilance department but nothing happened. Ever since it became a cooperative entity Goa Dairy has been plagued by one controversy or the other. It was once raided by the then animal husbandry minister Francisco Xavier Pacheco, and officials of the Food and Drugs Administration for allegedly supplying substandard milk.
Let us hope this time a thorough probe is conducted and the guilty punished. However, Goa Dairy’s plans should not be thwarted in the meantime. It must go on with its plans to improve its market share, the quality of its milk and the variety of its products to cater to the changing tastes of customers.