During Operation Flood – I programme, Shri. Vasantdada Patil was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. The first meeting to discuss Operation Flood was held in 1971 at Mantralaya, Mumbai in a large meeting hall.
There were around twenty five officers from different departments of Government of including the dairy development present at the meeting.
The discussion was about identifying two district level projects, a mother dairy and expansion of Worli Dairy and that how NDDB/ IDC would provide funds for such projects as also funds as grant for the formation of cooperatives and training and manpower development etc.
The new urban milk processing plant was planned to be established at Aarey Milk Colony. It was later named as ‘Mahanand Dairy’. NDDB proposed that the proposed dairy be constructed by the engineering division of NDDB. It was also decided that a portion of the land in Aarey Milk colony on which the new dairy would be set up be given for establishing regional office of NDDB and godowns for storing milk powder and butter oil being imported from European Economic Commission (EEC).
As usual, department officials were not in favour of giving free land to NDDB for establishing regional office.
In the meeting, the ChiefMinister Shri. Vasantdada Patil woh was only 7th standard pass endowed with a deep understanding of problems that farmer face and uncommon common sense clearly told the officers present that he was in favour of giving land to NDDB.
Vasant Dada Patil questioned the Maharashtra Government officers and asked them whether they realise why would Dr. Kurien come from Gujarat and offer subsidies for establishing a dairy in Mumbai and hundred percent grant for establishing dairy co-operatives in the villages of Maharashtra and training of manpower if it was not for development of dairying in the state.
Shri. Vasantdada Patil also said that, after all NDDB was not a private company. NDDB was a part of Govt. of India and despite that why officers are looking at NDDB with suspicion as if NDDB is a private company or a foreign institution.
He further added that even if the proposed projects fail, the NDDB after spending so much money, was not going to take way the land back to Gujarat. The land would always remains here in Mumbai as it is, and therefore, he did not find any problem in handing over part of the Array colony land for establishing NDDB’s regional office. This is how the regional office of NDDB was established in Mumbai.
After several years, when Shri. Sharad Pawar was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, in the year 1995, there was one Govt. officer Dr. Patil who was looking after Mahajan Dairy as General Manager.
Dr. Patil did not like NDDB. One day he suddenly took the stand that the land on which NDDB office was established actually belonged to Mahanand Dairy. He , sent notice to NDDB stating that he will break the wall between NDDB office and Mahanand Dairy so. that milk tankers could ply on NDDB roads. This proposal was not accepted by the NDDB office at Mumbai, because the Mumbai office also had residential complex, and if the tankers started plying on the same road then it would have created problems for the residential staff and their children.
First of all, NDDB officers approached the local District Collector at Boriwali to find out the legal status of the land. It was found that the land was not officially handed over to NDDB and it had remained a part of unit No. 12 of Arrey Milk Colony. The revenue department map showed just a line demarcating separation of Mahanand Dairy and NDDB Campus.
With great efforts, NDDB could manage to move the papers at the District Collectors Office and the land was properly demarcated and name of NDDB was also entered separately in the revenue records. Once this was done, NDDB approached the Commissioner Dairy Development and Secretary of the Department. But they too could not help and the tussle between NDDB and Mahanand Dairy continued for several months.
Ultimately, the matter was taken up with Dr. V. Kurien at NDDB, Anand.
He was briefed by Dr. Madhavan about what was going on. Dr. Kurien asked us to prepare a draft letter to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. We drafted the letter narrating the whole story and how a small issue had been unnecessarily raised which has created a tussle between NDDB and Mahananda Dairy and that too for no reason.
Shri. Sharad Pawar was also briefed by us at his residence while handing over the letter to him. Soon a letter was issued by Chief Minister himself stating that the matter has been brought to his notice, and henceforth the issue was closed.
Since then, till date, nobody has raised this issue. And the NDDB regional office in Mumbai.
Such was the power of relationship that Dr. Kurien had at the highest level in the Government. Even those who would normally oppose Dr. Kurien would admire Dr. Kurien and the values he stood for. Therefore despite so many odds, NDDB could achieve its goals.
Contributed by Dr. DV Ghanekar NDDB 1974- 2009 and Kolhapur Milk Producers Union 2009 continuing