One of the most vital laws in the livestock and dairy sector, Punjab Milk Boards Ordinance (PMBO) 1963 for regulating production, marketing and distribution of milk in Punjab, has virtually been ineffective and put under the carpet for more than 30 years, leaving milk consumers at the mercy of the suppliers of adulterated and contaminated milk.
According to section 14 of the PMBO 1963, one of the functions of the board is “to ensure that an adequate supply of milk and its products, of good quality, is made available to the consumers of milk and milk products in local areas and for that purpose, to prepare and execute schemes for regulating production, marketing and distribution of milk and milk products.”
Recently, sale of contaminated milk and its products have been on the rise. Likewise, consumers have also complained that milk prices are constantly on the rise and no regulatory body is checking the hikes. Good quality open milk is being sold at Rs70 to Rs80 per kg while packed milk is being marketed by multinationals and other companies from Rs100 to Rs110 per kg.
The board is also supposed to notify the prices of milk with the approval of the government and make it public, according to the ordinance.
The Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development (PLDD) Director General Dr Irfan Zahid, when specifically asked why PLDD is not formulating and submitting the schemes as envisaged under the PMBO, said that he is not aware that such a law is still alive under the law books of Punjab.
He further said that PLDD is supposed to ensure provisions of breeding, treatments of animals and they are carrying out these functions, adding that it was not in their jurisdiction to check prices of milk and its products, nor do they involve themselves in the complaints of contamination in milk, as it is beyond their mandate, Dr Zahid asserted.
However, the secretary of PLDD did know about the ordinance, and conceded that PMBO ceased to be implemented since the early 80’s as the department had made no effort to make it functional.
New laws are being introduced by the Punjab government which will change the working of the dairy and livestock sector, the secretary said while adding these would bring huge foreign investment, job opportunities and some relief to the livestock breeders, who will be the main beneficiaries from the plans under preparation of the Punjab government.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2011.