It became clear that the ghost of Vipul Chaudhary saga continues to haunt the largest dairy co-op of the world GCMMF, as on last Sunday, one of its milk unions-Mehsana announced severance of ties with the parent body. The Board of Mehsana District Cooperative Milk Producers Union also known as the Dudhsagar Dairy resolved to cut ties and sell its milk independently.
While experts called the resolution childish if not outright foolish, GCMMF MD R S Sodhi opened up and narrated the story of how Dudhsagar has gone down the hill year after year due to mismanagement and lack of vision on the part of the decision-makers.
Still hoping that the Board would rethink its decision Sodhi said the brand Amul would be impacted as Mehsana happens to be one of the founders of Amul as we see it today. More than the commercial loss to GCMMF it is the emotional issue for the brand, was the purport of Sodhi’s statement given to Indian Cooperative in the wake of the controversy.
“There are 50 brands of milk in Delhi where Amul is number one; if Mehsana starts as 51st brand you can imagine its fate in the highly competitive market of NCR, said Sodhi.
Sodhi also rubbished Mehsana charges that GCMMF is owing its money and that it is not helping Dudhsagar in a number of ways. “Not a pai is due as we have been paying them as well as others, according to our billing cycle which is of 15-20 days. Mehsana does a business of Rs 300 crore every month with the Federation. For April month, we have already paid Rs 210 crore. So, where is the pendency in payment?” Sodhi said.
They keep repeating that we owe them Rs 350 crore. The truth is that many commercial decisions- buying cattle feed from Maharashta or buying milk from Rajasthan- they took in past, were not backed by the GCMMF Board. Even the Supreme Court has ruled on the matter in GCMMF’s favour yet they keep repeating the same.
Sodhi also explained the current malaise of Dudhsagar dairy saying that the idea of capacity expansion without any plan to enhance milk procurement has led the milk union to this stage. “They took a loan of Rs 1500 crore and built a capacity for 73 million liters of milk while in reality for the last 9 years their milk procurement has not grown even by an ounce; it was 18 lakh litres then and it is so even now”, he added.
Readers would recall that in its AGM the Mehsana District Cooperative Milk Producers Union on Sunday passed a resolution to part ways with the federation by registering it under the Multi-state Cooperative Societies Act. The Dudhsagar Dairy is one of the 18 member-unions of the federation.
Political pundits, however, see the move by Dudhsagar as political given the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. While most of milk unions connected to GCMMF have BJP cooperators at the helm, Dudhsagar dairy has mostly Congressmen. . It is obvious Vipul Chaudhary’s legacy continues to haunt GCMMF.
Last year Vipul, who has been barred from contesting co-op elections by the courts , was ordered to pay Rs 42 crore recoverable from him by the Gujarat High Court. Chaudhary has been facing a series of actions by the State government for alleged irregularities in Mehsana District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union. The issue had been extensively discussed in these columns in the past.