Union Minister for Home Affairs and Cooperatives, Amit Shah, on Sunday hailed the ‘vision and determination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in assisting cooperatives in the country to become “profitable” and targeted Congress-led governments for “ignoring pleas of dying cooperatives”.
Shah, who was in Panchmahal district’s Godhra to inaugurate various projects of the Panchmahal District Milk Cooperative Union Ltd (Panchamrut) as well as a new building of the Panchmahal District Cooperative Bank, said Amul will soon step up its market for selling “natural farm products “Like lentils and vegetables, urging farmers to take to natural farming.
Flanked by Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and deputy speaker Jetha Ahir, who is also the chairman of Panchamrut Dairy and the Panchmahal District Cooperative Bank, Shah virtually inaugurated the Panchamrut oxygen plant in Godhra, the newly acquired plant of Panchamrut Dairy at Malegaon in Maharashtra, a cold storage plant for butter at Tadwa in Sehra taluka of the district and laid the foundation stone for a new dairy plant of Panchamrut. He also inaugurated the new premises of the Panchmahal District Cooperative Bank.
Addressing milk producers’ unions from Panchmahal, Dahod and Mahisagar districts, Shah said, “The old Panchmahal district included today’s Dahod, Mahisagar and Panchmahal districts… Today I can see saffron headgear till the end of my vision… I have an old relationship with Panchmahal . My aim was to bring about a White Revolution in this district… It is a matter of pride that the cooperative movement has taken this shape in Gujarat with the progress of Panchamrut Dairy and the Panchmahal District Cooperative bank (PDC Bank)… This is the same bank that had received a NABARD notice for closure… But we decided that not a single cooperative bank will be closed down.”
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“In four years, Panchmahal bank has not only come out of debt by paying all interest it owed, today it is making a profit. The Gujarat State Cooperative bank and the four district banks of the state came together to ensure that the money of the villagers is not at risk, no matter what the loss. It is because of the hard work and transparency of Jetha (Ahir) that the bank is making progress,” he said.
Shah urged farmers in the three districts to take to natural farming and safeguard the earth and cows. “Chemical fertilizers ruin our earth and insert carcinogenic elements into our food chain… I am appealing to the farmers of three districts to move to natural farming so that the earth is saved and the cows also produce more milk. Amul has now put out organic wheat in the market, soon it will also market organic lentils and thereafter vegetables. Amul has set a goal that they will set up a laboratory to certify natural products,” he said.
“Modiji has taken initiatives to ensure that even the foot of your animals do not attract any diseases. So you should take to natural farming and see the progress you make,” he added. Shah also said that the Union government has increased the budget for animal husbandry to Rs 7,000 crore from Rs 2,000 crore “after Parshottam Rupala become a Union Minister and pushed for reforms”.
Shah added that leaders from across the world express their surprise at the turnover of Amul, the cooperative known as the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) and the parent organization of 18 district milk unions in the state. Shah said, “When I speak of the Amul turnover, I see the eyes of officials from other countries pop out. Believe me that officials of the Netherlands and Australia have actually reverted to me to say that they cross-checked figures of profit I had mentioned in the conversation by checking the balance sheets on the Amul website… No one can believe that Amul, a cooperative, has a turnover of Rs 60,000 crore. Such a sum of turnover through a cooperative is unheard of across the world…”
Blaming Congress governments for the “dire straits” in which cooperatives were left in the country, Shah said it was PM Modi’s vision to create a cooperative department at the Center to rejuvenate cooperatives. Shah, who is the first minister for cooperatives in the country, said, “I have been connected to the cooperative movement since an age when I wasn’t even eligible to vote… As a 19-year-old, I would follow Motibhai Chaudhary’s work in the cooperative movement in Mehsana… I have seen how the cooperative movement was sidelined. Forget assistance, Congress governments never even created an environment conducive for cooperatives to sustain. They did not accept requests to make the cooperative movement successful. You can see what difference it makes to a movement when you have a government that supports you…”
Stating that in order to give impetus to cooperatives, the Modi-led government had brought the minimum alternate tax (MAT) and surcharge down for co-operative societies to ‘function and prosper’, Shah said, “It is Narendra bhai who created a cooperative movement… It has helped sugar cooperatives, milk cooperatives. Narendra bhai has reduced the 18% MAT on cooperatives to 15% in order to give it a level-playing field with other companies and the surcharge reduced to 7%. So, your money does not get drained in taxes… The government has computerized your cooperatives and directly joined with NABARD.”
Shah also targeted the Congress for not providing constitutional status to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) for 70 years. Shah said, “It is the Narendra Modi government that brought in the 123rd implementation amendment in the Constitution to welfare schemes of the Center for OBCs, Dalits, and tribals… It is Modiji who appointed 27 OBC ministers in the current government to empower the communities .”
Panchamrut Dairy, which reported a daily production of 17.45 lakh litres in 2021-22, is eyeing an expansion in states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. “Keeping in mind the increased milk production in Ujjain in MP, and thereby the procurement, a packing plant with a daily capacity for packing 1 lakh litres of milk is operational… In order to keep up the trust of milk producers’ unions in MP, the dairy has invested in land measuring 47,000 sq m in Ujjain to set up a new dairy plant with the capacity to pack five lakh litres of milk daily in the near future. The plant will also produce milk products such as ice cream, curd, buttermilk, lassi, clarified butter and cottage cheese,” a release attributed to Ahir, handed out at the event, said.
The dairy has also purchased a milk processing plant, spread across 11,000 sq m, with a daily capacity of three lakh litres in Maharashtra’s Malegaon. This plant will produce milk powder, butter, clarified butter, curds, buttermilk, lassi and cottage cheese in addition to packing milk pouches. The dairy has also set up a cold storage plant of 4,700 metric tonne capacity, spread over 2,500 sq meters, at Tadwa in Sehra taluka of the district to add storage capacity for products manufactured by Panchamrut Dairy.
Panchamrut Dairy has set up a 30 metric tonne oxygen plant in Godhra, spread over 250 sq m for oxygen generation and bottle refilling, to prepare for Covid-19 needs, the said.