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Friday, July 12, 2019

TN Court directs Aavin to revert to bottles

Milk has special significance and is seen as the most important health drink. Although considered a complete food, there are many lobbies that discourage milk consumption, alleging — without any convincing proof — that it might promote some diseases.  Billions of people around the globe  — barring a minority suffering from lactose intolerance — have been consuming milk daily in various forms, without any visible problems.In 1992, a new dimension to the debate was added, when scientists in New Zealand alleged  a correlation between the prevalence of type-1 diabetes and the type of milk consumed. It led to the discovery of the so-called A1 and A2 types of milk.

Today, news reports suggest that in New Zealand, the  market value of a2 Milk rocketed by almost three quarters of a billion dollars on the back of a series of upgrades from brokers.Shares in the alternative milk and infant formula company closed at $16.25, up $1.00 or 6.6 per cent from Tuesday's close, and lifting its market capitalisation by $735 million to $11.94 billion.Analysts said the move followed favourable reports from brokers UBS, Goldman Sachs and Forsyth Barr over the last few days.UBS New Zealand head of research Marcus Curley, who co-authored the brokers' latest report, said UBS had upgraded a2 Milk's recommendation from "neutral" to "buy" and lifted its valuation from $14.0 a share to $17.50.

Back home, Indian native breeds of cows and buffaloes are of A2 milk type and hence are a source for safe milk. The A1/A2 status of cattle is determined by the two alleles for beta-casein gene i.e. A1 and A2 and cattle may be homozygous for one type of protein (A1A1 or A2A2), or heterozygous (A1A2). A1A1 cattle would produce only A1 milk, A2A2 would produce only A2 milk and A1A2 cattle would produce milk with both A1 and A2 beta – caseins .. .. most baffling !!

I have posted on this earlier too .. .. in mid 1970s – there was a paradigm shift in Triplicane from cow/buffalo milk to Aavin. The milk booth in the street was all important place.  The area would be disturbed if the van is late and when the early risers could not have the morning coffee ! – remember those days only a handful of households had the refrigerator.  People would stand in long queue with empty  bottles in custom trays, give them and take the milk bottle.  Some would bring eversilver vessels, into which milk would be emptied. The bottles would have aluminium caps [most households would collect these and earn something from the trash too].   This always carried potential danger – glass bottles do break – sometimes crack and where would be the small broken pieces go ~ would they not get mixed with the milk, and be consumed !  Besides handling crates (containing 20 bottles) was a challenge – persons manning the milk booth would throw the crate artistically into the empty lorry.

Slowly Aavin ventured into plastic sachets – looking more attractive, lesser space occupied and ease of handling. Besides there was no need for carrying vessels or bottles to be exchanged.  One can walk across and pick the ½ litre or 1 litre milk packets [carrying 4 or more in a single hand is a challenge !]   .. .. a nice suggestion in social media said ‘don’t cut the edge of milk sachet – millions of such cut pieces clutter the drains’ – better cut open the milk packet straight and drain out the milk without removing a small piece !

In what could be termed as returning to old – it could be back to bottles for Aavin.  It is reported that a Division bench of the Madras High Court has directed the State government to give up the practice of supplying Aavin milk in plastic covers and follow the old method of using bottles or any other means. The bench of Justices R Subbiah and Krishnan Ramasamy gave the direction while dismissing a batch of public interest writ petitions from Chennai Non Wovens Private Limited in Ambattur Industrial Estate and 29 others, on Thursday.

The PIL sought to quash a GO dated June 25 of the State Environment and Forest department and a consequential letter dated December 8, 2018, in so far as it banned non-woven polypropylene carry bags and consequently direct it not to interfere with the petitioners’ manufacturing, storing, supplying, trading and selling of the products,  irrespective of GSM.

“We, therefore, direct the government to implement the banning of all multi-layered plastic wrappers and covers, which are meant for one-time use and throwaway, so as to make the ban effective and meaningful. The government can also explore alternatives for supply of Aavin milk through bottles or any other means, which was hitherto followed in the State, instead of using the plastic cover,” the bench said.

The bench also observed that the State government had banned one-time use of plastic and other similar products with effect from  January 1, 2019, with an avowed object to make the environment a plastic-free one.“We feel that the ban is neither effective nor complete. In spite of the ban, one-time throw-away plastics are freely made available or accessed for being used,’’ the bench said, adding that the order which is impugned in these writ petitions, banning one-time use of throwaway plastics, can, therefore, be construed to remain only in paper owing to its poor implementation.Stressing on the importance of levying fines, the bench said: ‘’Unless hefty fines are imposed on the suppliers or stockists, the ban cannot be claimed to be effective or complete. The State should promote alternative products such as cloth or jute bags for being used by one and all, in the larger interest of protecting the environment from being hampered.’’‘’By allowing the citizens of this State to continue to use one-time use and throw plastics, it would only adversely affect the ecology of the State. The State is duty-bound to enforce certain stringent measures to protect the environment and the decision to impose a ban on one-time use and throwaway plastics, is one of the steps taken in that direction,” the bench said.

The bench added that slowly and steadily, plastic had infiltrated and intruded into the daily lives and the large scale use of plastic, for the purpose to which it was not intended to, had in fact sounded a death knell to the ecology and environment.‘’By virtue of burgeoning use of plastics for all purposes, it resulted in mounting of garbage strewn all through the lanes and by-lanes of the streets and the Municipal authorities throughout the State find it an uphill task to deal with the situation,’’ said the bench.

So, what would Aavin do, and how would that meet the convenience of customers – perforce,  Aavin may have to chuckthesachets andbottleits milk from now on – or is there any other alternative !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th July 2019.

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