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Monday, August 3, 2015

buttermilk flowed in river .... Fonterra clamped with fine !

Sometimes we would hear electoral promises that – if they are to rule, it would be honey and milk in the river !  - The Rangitaiki River is the longest river in the Bay of Plenty region in New Zealand's North Island. It is 155 kilometres in length, and rises inland from northern Hawkes Bay to the east of the Kaingaroa Forest.

In our own Thirumayilai – the ArupathuMoovar is a very famous festival.  The Kayilai [Sri Kapaleeswarar temple] is ancient, extolled in verses by the saint ThirugnanaSambanthar.  In the annual brahmothsvam, thousands throng to witness the famous arupathumoovar when all the nayanmars [63 in nos.] would come in procession. The devotees are treated with panagam[ jaggery drink ] and buttermilk. 

On the Indian subcontinent, the term "buttermilk" is  the liquid left over after extracting butter from churned yogurt.  Understand that buttermilk in its traditional sense is common in many Nepalese, Indian and Pakistani households but rarely found in western countries.  In South India – people regularly take buttermilk  with added water, sugar or salt, asafoetida, and curry leaves – in fact, most times, ‘curd rice ’ is more of buttermilk than the curd.  This fermented dairy product known as cultured buttermilk is produced from cow's milk and has a characteristically sour taste caused by lactic acid bacteria. The tartness of buttermilk is due to acid in the milk. The increased acidity is primarily due to lactic acid produced by lactic acid bacteria while fermenting lactose, the primary sugar in milk.

-          ..but when buttermilk literally flowed in waters, the stench was unbearable and has landed a big Company in trouble.

Not here but downunder in New Zealand, the company, Fonterra, reportedly had been dumping the milk by-product at the Eltham wastewater treatment plant for about a month as it dealt with the spring's record milk production.It was supposed to be an "environmentally friendly" solution in a deal struck with the South Taranaki District Council.Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is a New Zealand multinational dairy co-operative owned by around 13,000 New Zealand farmers. The company is responsible for approximately 30% of the world's dairy exports.  The name Fonterra comes from Latin fons de terra, meaning "spring from the land".

Not to be for those living near the plant, who felt that it was an assault on their nostrils as the buttermilk breaks down.Castle St resident who lived opposite the plant, said they were promised the odour would not be noticeable; but the pong emanating was inescapable. The stench caused by discharging millions of litres of buttermilk at Eltham's wastewater plant in October 2013 plagued the town for several months and many residents complained about its detrimental effects on their health.

Last month Fonterra was found guilty of a representative charge of discharging odorous compounds, brought by the Taranaki Regional Council under the Resource Management Act.The company appeared for sentencing in the Environment Court at New Plymouth.  Fonterra has been fined $192,000 this morning  for that discharge of  buttermilk in  South Taranaki treatment pond that caused a stench in the local area.Judge Dwyer said the seriousness of the offending, the level of culpability and Fonterra's ability to pay influenced his decision.The dairy giant has pleaded guilty to four offences relating to their wastewater irrigation system and two for overflows at their Edgecumbe plant. The Rangitaiki River was polluted by the failures between September 2014 and April this year.

Appearing for the co-operative, Jason Sanford apologised to the Eltham community and promised a similar incident would never happen again.The fine will be paid to the regional council, to be used for an environmental project near Eltham. The South Taranaki District Council was fined $115,000 last year for its role in the incident.

Some residents have said they are still considering civil action over the buttermilk stink.  Alex Ballentyne, who was dumped by councillors as South Taranaki's deputy mayor over his protests about the smell, said residents had not been compensated for two years' hardship.He said the Environment Court found enough evidence of negligence to warrant residents pursuing compensation through the civil courts.

Tailpiece :Nestled in Kutch district of Gujarat, renowned for its white revolution, Dhokda is a rare village where dairy products are not sold. Most villagers in Dhokda, which has a population of 5,000, rear cattle. Any extra milk is made into curd for buttermilk, which is distributed free to residents as well as people from neighbouring villages. Some 90 families get their fill of buttermilk, a must-have drink with lunch and dinner in the arid area, from Dhokda.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

3rd Aug 2015.

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