Mahanand Dairy, the state milk co-operative, is a public authority and must appoint a public information officer (PIO), according to the state information commission.
Ratnakar Gaikwad, state chief information commissioner, in an order delivered on December 12, directed the secretary of the dairy development department and the managing director of the Maharashtra Rajya Sahakari Dudh Mahasangh that manages the dairy, to also set up a first appellate authority (FAA) to take up appeals.
The order was given on an application by Shree Naik, president of the Maharashtra Milk Suppliers and Transport Union. Naik, who is also a distributor of Mahanand, complained to the commission that he was refused information by the dairy.
“I had sought information under RTI from the dairy because it is running into losses and there is a lot of corruption. They were giving information till 2011 and then stopped. I had asked some information recently, but this was denied to me. They said it (Mahanand Dairy) is not a public authority. So I filed another application asking if it comes under the control of the Maharasthra government and hence is a public authority by the definition of RTI Act,” said Naik.
Mahanand Dairy is a federation of milk unions at the district and taluka levels.
During the hearing, it was observed that the dairy receives Rs56.19 crore as aid and the land from where it operates at a low rate from the government. Senior government officers and a managing director and a financial advisor appointed by the government manage its affairs on a daily basis.
In addition, it receives grants regularly from government.