PESHAWAR: The flour millers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tuesday announced launching a ‘phase-wise’ agitation campaign from next week against restrictions on wheat supply from Punjab.

 

Addressing a press conference here, the millers argued that restrictions on inter-provincial movement of wheat and other food items was against article 151 of the constitution which should be lifted forthwith.

 

KP was a wheat-deficient province, as it is mainly dependent on Punjab to fulfill requirements of the food commodity, said Chairman of All Pakistan Flour Mills Association Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chapter Muhammad Naeem Butt.

 

He said Punjab government has imposed a ban on inter-provincial movement of wheat to KP from April 01, since the start of wheat crop harvesting season, which has caused closure of a number of flour mills in KP.

 

The chairman informed that the Punjab government had issued a permit, allowing KP millers to procure wheat from the open market in the province while the Punjab food department staff is illegally charging Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 as bribe 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.

 

Naeem Butt mentioned that the Punjab government had decided to issue permit for transportation of only 2,000 metric ton against requirements of 12,000 metric ton of KP whereas the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also stopped issuance of wheat from godown, subsequently, 25 percent flour mills had been closed down in the province.

 

If the Punjab government did not lift the ban on wheat movement immediately, the rest of the flour mills would be shut in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he feared. He said KP flour millers buy wheat sac at Rs 5,200 from open market against Punjab rate of Rs 4,500 and Rs 4,800, owing to which people of the KP province have compelled to purchase flour at higher rates.

 

During the initial phase of the protest campaign, Butt informed that black-ribbon will be hoisted on all flour mills in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. After one week, a protest rally will be held from Peshawar Motorway Toll Plaza to Press Club. He added the next phase of the agitation drive will be announced during the rally.