LAHORE - Almost all milk shops in the city remained closed on Thursday, as the milkmen suspended supply of around five million litre of loose milk, resulting into huge shortage of it.

The daylong complete shutter down of milk shops and protests of thousands of loose milk suppliers and milkmen along with dozens of milk supplying vessels and tankers against the Punjab Food Authority forced the government to bow down.

The milkmen started their protest against the PFA, its way of inspection and raids at Thokar Niaz Baig, blocking Multan Road for several hours. Then they marched towards Faisal Chowk, in front of Punjab Assembly, and blocked the traffic of The Mall. They also unload milk filled tankers outside the Punjab Assembly in protest against the raids and checking of PFA.

However, the demonstrators called off their protest after the assurance of the govt to accept their demands. The Milk Sales and Suppliers Association of Punjab held talks with govt team including secretary livestock Nasim Sadiq, IG Punjab and Lahore DCO Capt (r) Muhammad Usman.

The association’s media coordinator Ch Fayyaz told The Nation that the government agreed to form a committee to revaluate the milk rates after conducting detailed survey and actual cost within two days.

He said that the govt team also accepted that the FIRs by the PFA against milk suppliers, who were involved in adulteration, would be quashed.

Ch Fayyaz demanded the government to adopt a proper procedure of milk checking, notify independent laboratories for milk testing, and give the right of cross-laboratory checking to them as well. He claimed that milk worth million of rupees was being wasted on a daily basis due to a wrong testing mechanism of mobile labs of PFA. He asked the government to provide them with interest-free soft loans for the purchase of chillers and generators.

Officials of the PFA, on the other hand, said that daily consumption of milk in Lahore is over 7 million litre and major portion of the demand is fulfilled by loose milk. They were of the view that majority of people in Lahore were forced to consume chemically contaminated milk and when PFA started action against milkmen, they started propagating against the Authority’s checking means.

PFA officials said that they had often found formalin, a very dangerous chemical, in loose milk, besides urea, caustic soda, cheap cooking oil and detergents were mixed in the milk to increase its shelve life and to hide the traces of adulteration.

Moreover, several milkmen also mixed sewerage water in the milk to increase its quantity, besides mixing rancid oil as a substitute for milk fat while caustic soda is also added to neutralise the effect of increased acidity.