PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday directed the Peshawar administration to ramp up efforts to ensure the availability of quality flour to the residents at government rates.

A bench consisting of Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Syed Arshad Ali directed the district administration to ensure that the flour sold on the market is not substandard and is fit for human consumption.

It directed an assistant commissioner, who was in attendance, to conduct visits to the sale points of subsidised flour and submit a report to the court about its availability to people.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by resident Faisal Khan through lawyer Saeed Akhunzada to seek its orders for the government to ensure the availability of wheat flour on the market at ‘normal’ rates.

Seeks report on matter from Peshawar admin

The petitioner claimed that it had become impossible for the people to purchase essential commodities, especially wheat flour, due to the exorbitant prices.

He claimed that the government had been acting like silent spectator and dealers had been fleecing the people by charging the prices of their choice.

During the course of proceedings, the bench asked the assistant commissioner (AC) about the rate at which a 20kg bag of wheat flour was sold on the market observing it had received reports about its sale for over Rs1,400.

The AC replied that the wheat flour provided by the government was sold at the rate of Rs1,100 per bag. He added that there were designated points where subsidised flour was available to the people across the province.

The AC told the court that the flour supplied to the province from Punjab was available for Rs1,400 per bag.

He said the provincial government didn’t regulate the prices of flour procured from Punjab.

To a query of the bench about the quality of that flour, the official said the government had been trying to provide quality flour to the people and that they were provided with ‘mixed flour’.

“We have fixed wheat quota for different flour mills for the provision of the official flour at subsidised rates,” he said.

Additional advocate general Syed Sikandar Hayat Shah also appeared before the court and said the government had been implementing the court’s orders issued from time to time on the matter.

He added that the relevant officials were asked by the government to increase their efforts to ensure the availability of quality flour to the people across the province.

The petition was filed in 2020 and since then, the court has regularly been issuing directives to the administration for ensuring the availability of flour to the people.

During a hearing, the administration had informed the court that the dealers procured flour from Punjab on their own and sold it in the province at higher rates.

The government had claimed that it had been providing flour to the people at subsidised rates. Earlier, the government, acting on the orders of the high court,had published advertisements in newspapers about the subsidised flour sale points.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2022

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