CMs dairy project to milk votes hits dry patch

On September 3, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav laid the foundation stone for the largest milk processing plant in the state with much fanfare, with an aim to complete the project before the 2004 Lok Sabha elections and showcase it as one of the main achievements of the SP government. Three months later, the government is desperately trying to meet the deadline as efforts to rope in private investors as part of the public-private partnership model have hit a dead end.

Sources said two firms which earlier showed interest in the project have backed out because they were not interested in working in partnership with government-owned Pradeshik Cooperative Development Dairy Federation Limited (PCDDF). "Also, conditions set up by the firms were not acceptable to the state government," said an official.

The government has now decided to take Rs 280 crore loan from National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) and give it to PCDDF to set up the dairy plant with a capacity to process 5 lakh litres milk daily. "The government has already provided PCDDF a loan of Rs 20 crore for the project. The remaining amount would be taken as loan from NCDC," said Dr B P Nilaratna, Principal Secretary, Milk Development. A proposal for taking the loan from NCDC is being drafted and that will be sent for the Cabinet's approval very soon.

"The project is unlikely to be completed before the Lok Sabha elections," said an official.

The PCDDF has already signed an agreement with Gujarat-based National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) to provide necessary technical expertise in setting up the project.

After laying the foundation stone on September 3, Akhilesh had directed the officers to ensure completion of the project before the Lok Sabha elections so that it can be showcased as a place where farmers could sell milk. If the government delivers to the farmers, they will make the SP succeed in 2014, he had said.

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