LAHORE: Farmers have decided to widen their protest and include other issues in their charter of demand besides fertiliser shortage.

The Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) will stage a rally outside the power distribution company in Multan on Thursday (today) to protest against the imposition of new taxes on the electricity consumed by agriculture tubewells.

PKI President Mian Umair Masood says around Rs14 per unit had been added to the tubewell electricity tariff during the last two years. In 2019, there was a flat rate of Rs5.35 per unit but the incumbent government added Rs13.65 per unit to the tariff, increasing the cost of production of various agricultural produce, he says.

He says that members of the group will demonstrate outside Lahore Electric Supply Company offices in Lahore, Kasur and Okara next Wednesday.

He said that instead of resolving issues of the growers, the government is adding to their miseries.

In Faisalabad, farmers protested outside the deputy commissioner’s office against the shortage of urea fertiliser and its sale in the black market while the window for its utilization is closing fast.

Kissan Board Pakistan vice-president Amanullah Chathha says the urea crisis is worsening with each passing day and fears that if the compost is not applied to wheat, its production will fall leading to an increase in flour prices.

He wonders why urea is not available in adjacent districts of Sheikhupura, Multan and Ghotki where the fertiliser factories are located.

Mr Chathha alleges that the hoarding mafia is charging Rs700 extra against the official rate of Rs1,768 per urea bag, while the government looks the other way.

He says that the issue is making political parties come on the roads and show solidarity with the protesting farmers.

He threatened to widen the protest if the government did not ensure a smooth supply of urea as per Federal Minister Khuro Bakhtiyar’s announcement.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee (PKRC) welcomed the decision of the Lahore High Court declaring the Ruda housing project illegal.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2022

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