According to the Haryana Economic Survey 2012-2013, the milk production in Haryana in FY 12- 13 was 70.40 lakh litres. The milk production has increased over the years in Haryana and is a major source of livelihood for many small and landless farmers of Haryana. Most retain some milk for personal family consumption and sell the rest to milk co-operatives. As per the last livestock census in 2007, Haryana had a buffalo count of 59,53,228 lakh and 15,52,361 lakh cows.
However, there is a dark side to this achievement and that is the growth of the illegal milk industry in Haryana. With increasing demand for milk, there are large numbers of unscrupulous people who are exploiting this demand to feed their own greed. They are resorting to all kinds of illegal means to boost milk production and make use of illegal and banned drugs and chemicals to increase milk production in livestock along with adulterating milk with very harmful chemicals.
Dangers of Oxytocin
In a widespread practice, farmers are increasingly using synthetic Oxytocin to boost milk production. Oxytocin is a natural hormone secreted and stored in the posterior pituitary gland, which stimulates lactation or milk production. In 1953, a scientist called Vincent du Vigneaud first synthesized this hormone artificially in a lab. Ever since, this has been used to boost milk production. However, it is also known to have serious side effects on humans, especially children and can result in serious medical conditions on constant use.
Unfortunately, despite being banned, synthetic Oxytocin is freely available over the counter in India, at a cost less than Rs 0.40 paise per dosage. This makes procurement and usage easy and most farmers are resorting to the use of this synthetic drug on their livestock.
The problem is further compounded by the fact that there are very few systems in place to detect and check the use of Oxytocin. When milk is procured by the milk co-operatives, they mainly check for water or urea adulteration but there are no checks for the presence of synthetic Oxytocin, which causes maximum damage.
Other common adulterants
Another area of concern is the widespread use of urea and other chemicals that is mixed with milk. Unfortunately this is also a widespread practice and the adulterated milk is widely used for making paneer and khoya, especially during festivals. Time and again, raids conducted on paneer and khoya traders have revealed extensive use of urea and other chemicals.
The raids have now become an annual ritual and traders don't seem to be too scared of the law, which have enough loopholes to ensure that they can get away with minimum punishment that would come after years of prolonged trial. In the meantime, they continue with their malpractice and make significant profits.
The Hooda administration is fully apprised of the situation but has chosen to look the other way because of the large vote bank of farmers and it does not want to antagonize this influential segment, never mind if the health of its citizens is at grave risk. The lax attitude towards this very dangerous trend of adulteration drew a sharp negative observation from the Supreme Court in January this year that criticised states, including Haryana, for having mild punishment for milk and food adulterators.
The Supreme Court observed that while states like West Bengal and Orissa had laws with life imprisonment for adulteration, states like Punjab and Haryana, had dealt with this subject lightly. The facts seem to bear this out. In response to the Supreme Court's observation, the Haryana ASG's office released figures that showed the lax attitude of the state government.
Laxity on part of Hooda administration
Figures revealed that there were just 2,398 samples collected in 4 years from FY 09-FY13, whereas this number of samples should be collected every quarter, if not every month. Nevertheless, the report further revealed that in the 4-year period and with only 2,398 samples, just 676 were found to be sub-standard.
That's an average of 600 samples a year or 50 samples a month. That's to check adulteration in the milk produced by the 75 lakh livestock population (cows & buffaloes) in Haryana. This is a joke on its citizens and one that plays directly with their health. Jago Grahak Jago!
Furthermore, none of the samples collected during FY 09-FY 12 showed the presence of any harmful chemicals. Only one sample was found in 2013 to contain a harmful chemical. It is amazing to see that despite a very small sample size in the four years, NONE were found to have any harmful chemicals!
This is despite the open secret that farmers were injecting their animals with synthetic Oxytocin at less than 0.40 per shot, to boost milk production. According to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Report of 2012, in many parts of India, more than 75% is not milk at all but urea, water, starch, caustic soda, sugar, glucose, salt, hydrogen peroxide, skimmed milk and a host of other adulterants. In Haryana, 70% of the samples were found to contain some form of adulterant. This is in a state that prides itself for its milk production and consumption.
In this context, the sampling results referred by the Haryana administration is ample evidence of laxity on part of the Hooda administration and its reluctance to prosecute the offenders.
The rate of prosecution itself confirms this. During this period, there have been only 752 prosecutions with only 58 resulting in conviction. The long drawn trial is still on in 487 cases. With this track record, who is going to be afraid of the law and why would any farmer not indulge in malpractices for profit?
Lack of health impact monitoring
Unfortunately, the state government has not initiated any survey to study the ill effects of food and milk adulteration from 2005 till date. An unbiased and scientifically approached research is sure to reveal the negative medical impact on the health of its citizens. The children who were born after 2005, would have borne the consequences of this laxity on part of the state government but as of now there are no studies available to conclusively prove the consumption of adulterated milk and its impact in causing various illnesses and diseases that the current population suffer.
The Hooda administration has played with the lives of its citizens with innocent children growing up in an adulterated Haryana. They will never forgive this government for allowing their health to be risked for the sake of profit by a few. It is time that the government took measures to ensure that Haryana does not emerge with a reputation from being one of the largest milk producing states, to being one of the largest adulterated milk producing states in India.
It's time for a Nayi Soch; it's time for a Naya Haryana.