PM seeks report on dairy farm locked for years

Spread on 300 kanals in Murree, plant remains closed for over 50 years


Qaiser Shirazi January 25, 2023
Dairy sector says withdrawal of zero-rated tax regime would be disastrous. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

RAWALPINDI:

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has sought a report from the Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development Department about the closure of the 100-year-old and Asia's largest dairy farm in Jhika Gali in Murree which remains shut since 1971.

Sources said that the revival of the locked dairy farm will lead to a marked increase in milk and meat production in the twin cities of Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Punjab.

According to the sources, the largest dairy farm used to be the major milk and meat production center until 1971 when hundreds of cows were reared there.

Before partition, British Army soldiers used to run the now abandoned dairy farm. Rawalpindi and the local population were supplied with milk along with fresh lassi, cheese and butter at very cheap prices twice a day from this dairy farm built in 1920, the sources said.

The dairy farm on 300-kanal in a desolate place was built by the British government. The dairy farm presents a deserted look today but the building and its sheds are still intact.

From 1920 to 1971, the citizens of Kashmir, Hazara, Rawalpindi and Punjab were provided with cheap milk, lassi, cheese and butter from the dairy.

After partition, the Punjab Livestock Department took over the control of the dairy farm. However, during the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto era, this dairy farm was closed without justification.

The Rural Area Development Organisation has started work to rehabilitee the dairy farm.

The Department of Dairy Development and Livestock had presented a report seeking the restoration of the diary, but due to lack of funds, it could not be restored.

Rural Area Development Organisation’s Murree district head Abdul Rahim Abbasi told The Express Tribune that after Murree was made a new district, the restoration of the dairy farm has become all the more necessary.

“This will provide employment to hundreds of families, while cheap milk and butter will also be available to the people of Murree and surrounding areas of Punjab, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Hazara,” he said adding that the dairy farm could be restored at a cost of only a few million rupees.

Abbasi said that 500 cows and 100 buffaloes can be reared at the dairy farm at the same time.

He said that if Punjab or the federal governments did not want to restore it, the 300 kanal land should be leased out to the Rural Area Development Organisation and “we can run it”.

“The production from the dairy will reduce the price of milk and yogurt by 30 to 40 per cent,” he said.

He said that this was the largest and oldest dairy farm in Asia. “It is a dairy farm by nature as green fodder is found abundantly all around, and water is available in abundance and the old sheds are intact,” he said.

According to the sources, a delegation of the Rural Area Development Organisation also met Director Livestock Dr Sarfaraz Chatha for the restoration of the dairy farm. Though he supported the restoration the project could not see the light of the day due to a lack of funds.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2023.

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