For Rajesh Kumar, Rajpal Yadav and other milkmen at Asadpur in Rewari district of Haryana, the day begins an hour before dawn. They set out to collect fresh buffalo milk from the homesteads run by women like Narangi and Laxmi. After a cursory examination to catch any dilution of the milk, the men move to the next door. By 5.30 a.m., the morning’s collection is loaded onto an autorickshaw for transport to the Inchhapuri railway station, 10 km away. It’s another two hours by train to Delhi.Each milkman collects 50 to 200 litres a day, and 300 to 350 of them travel daily from Asadpur, Rojka, Malahera, Shahpur, Khalilpur, Doki Dabri, Pataudi and Jhatola villages of Haryana to Delhi to distribute milk in various parts of the city.
Though Mother Dairy and Amul dominate the milk market, an informal network of milkmen from Haryana has a sizeable clientele, selling 40,000 litres. “When I began selling milk in 1986, milk was retailing at ₹3 a litre. Now it is ₹45. Neither the demand nor the supply shows signs of abating,” Rajesh Kumar, 51, of Asadpur says.
“The journey from the village to the railway station and to the final destination can be mapped, thanks to mobile phones which are extremely useful in our line of business.”