PESHAWAR: Flour millers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) have decreed to launch a ‘phase-wise’ protest against “unlawful” restrictions on wheat supply from Punjab from next week.
According to details, the protest rally will be held from Peshawar Motorway Toll Plaza to Press Club whereas the next phase will be announced during the protest. A black-ribbon will be hoisted on all flour mills in KP during the initial phase of the protest campaign.
While speaking with media, millers said that restrictions on interprovincial movement of wheat and other food items was against Article 151 of the Constitution, demanding that it be lifted immediately.
“KP is a wheat-deficient province as it is mainly dependent on Punjab to fulfill requirements of the food commodity,” All Pakistan Flour Mills Association (APFMA) KP Chapter Chairman Muhammad Naeem Butt said while addressing a news conference after chairing an executive body meeting of the association here on Tuesday.
He alleged the Punjab government imposed a ban on interprovincial movement of wheat to KP from April 1, since the start of wheat crop harvesting season, which has caused closure of a number of flour mills in the province.
He informed that the Punjab government had issued a permit, allowing KP millers to procure wheat from the open market in the province. However, he alleged that the Punjab Food Department staff illegally charged from Rs15, 000 to Rs20, 000 in bribes for issuance of the permit.
On the other hand, the millers said illegal taxes were being charged on various checkpoints erected by police and food department during transportation of wheat from Punjab.
Butt said the Punjab government had decided to issue permit for transportation of only 2,000 metric tonnes against the requirements of 12,000 metric tonnes of KP whereas the provincial government had also stopped issuance of wheat from godown, which led to the shut down of 25 per cent flour mills in the province.
The association’s chief said KP flour millers buy a wheat sack at Rs5,200 from open market against Punjab rate of Rs4, 500 and Rs4, 800, owing to which people of the KP province have compelled to purchase flour at higher rates.
Flanked by the association’s former chairman, flour mill owners, executive members and office bearers from PFMA divisional headquarters, he announced that the protests would continue until their demands were met.