From Abid Usman
LAHORE: In the ongoing flour crisis in Punjab, at least 204 mills have been found involved in the wheat shortage, according to the food department’s report submitted to the Lahore High Court.
The report mentioned that since last year in December, the licenses of 28 mills have been suspended, while a fine of Rs5.62 million has been imposed on the mills.
The department’s report showed that 14 of the mills were located in the Lahore division, while eight were in Rawalpindi.
The report alleged that most of the people found guilty of creating the flour crisis hail from strong political backgrounds.
Among the other factors, the food department’s report said that due to the devaluation of rupee, the demand from local traders increased to overcome the shortage.
Last week, the Federal Investigation Agency was tasked to probe the shortage of wheat across the country.
The Punjab government had launched a province-wide crackdown on wheat hoarders and profiteers to control wheat flour prices. The provincial government had decided to take strict action against those involved in creating artificial shortage of flour.
As the crisis intensified, Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of the recent surge in wheat prices, instructing all four provincial chief secretaries to initiate a “grand operation” against those involved in hoarding flour and selling it at exorbitant rates.
In January, the price of the flour increased by five rupees due to a shortage of wheat supply.
“Fine flour is available for Rs62/kg while the price of mill flour increased by five to six rupees and is being sold between Rs 62/kg to Rs70/kg,” the president of the flour retailers association earlier said.
In Karachi, a sack of flour was sold for Rs500. In some parts of the city, a bag of 10kg flour which cost Rs450 before the crisis was sold for Rs700 after an increase of Rs250.
In Lahore, the Punjab Flour Mill Association increased the price of flour by Rs6 per kg, after which it was sold at Rs70 per kg across the province.