KARACHI: The provincial food department has so far recovered over one million wheat bags of 100kg each in its crackdown against hoarding under way across Sindh except for Karachi.

The department expects recovery of over three million 100kg bags of hoarded wheat in a similar crackdown to be launched in Karachi within the next few days.

Official sources told Dawn that the department, which had launched the crackdown on the directives of Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah three days ago in different districts of the province, had recovered 1,017,585.5 wheat bags of 100kg each till Sunday. The action is aimed at averting wheat and flour shortage in the province.

They said that the CM had issued the directives after receiving credible information that a huge amount of wheat procured on subsidised rates by the traders and millers had been hoarded in certain warehouses.

Drive to be extended to Karachi within a couple of weeks

The CM constituted a committee under Food Secretary Raja Khurram and authorised it to organise raids on the warehouses where wheat stocks had been hoarded. He was also directed to impound the vehicles transporting wheat illegally.

The sources said that the department raided a number of warehouses in 22 districts in six divisions and recovered 1,017,585.5 wheat bags, including 17,806 bags recovered from impounded vehicles on different roads.

They said that 333,640 bags were recovered in Sukkur division — 183,220 in Khairpur district, 69,770 in Ghotki district and 80,650 in Sukkur district.

The sources said that 46,880 wheat bags were recovered in Shaheed Benazirabad division — 28,000 in Naushahro Feroze district, 3,900 in Sanghar district and 14,980 in Shaheed Benazirabad district.

They said that 232,255 wheat bags were recovered in Larkana division -- 28,400 in Jacobabad district, 50,000 in Kandhkot-Kashmore district, 25,255 in Shikarpur district, 97,000 in Qambar-Shahdadkot district and 31,600 in Larkana district.

In Hyderabad division, 402,310.5 wheat bags recovered — 347,000 in Dadu district, 32,000 in Jamshoro district, 4,945 in Hyderabad district, 3,700 bags in Matiari district, 870 in Tando Allahyar district, and 2,343.50 in Thatta and Sujawal districts, they said.

According to the sources, 25,000 wheat bags were recovered in Mirpurkhas district and 1,400 bags from vehicles at different check posts set up at the entry/exit points of Karachi.

Talking to Dawn, Food Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla said that the drive against the hoarders would continue in order to avert the persisting artificial shortage of wheat and flour in the province.

“The official rate of wheat is Rs5,500 per 100kg, but the hoarders were trying to cause an increase its price through the shortage,” he said, adding that hoarders had planned to release the grain into the market after achieving their objective so that they would make windfall profits.

He said that the chief minister had ordered the crackdown on hoarders to thwart their attempt.

The minister said that three different teams were in the field in as many divisions of the province.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2022

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