LAHORE: The price of chakki atta skyrocketed to Rs130 per kg on Tuesday, making the commodity out of reach of common people in Lahore and other major cities of Punjab.
The prices of simple and fine atta (flour), usually used for making roti and naan, also reached record high of Rs1,750 (per 15kg bag) and Rs9500 (per 80kg bag), respectively.
On the other hand, the district administrations across the province have stopped regulating prices of chakki atta, stating that since they have not been giving any wheat quota to chakkis (grinders), they cannot force them to sell flour on cheaper rates.
“The rates of chakki atta are increasing almost on a daily basis. A couple of days ago, its price was Rs105 per kg or so. And now it has reached Rs130 in Lahore. The price of chakki atta is more or less same in all major cities of Punjab. It clearly reflects that the government seems feeling no pain as being felt by the poor people,” deplores a consumer while talking to Dawn.
According to another consumer, tandoor owners, on the other hand, also continue increasing the prices of roti and naan on their own on the pretext of increasing simple and fine flour rates.
“Most of tandoor owners are selling roti (100 gram) and naan (120 gram) for Rs15 and Rs25 instead of the notified rates of Rs14 and Rs22, respectively. But since no one is checking them on a regular basis, they continue fleecing the poor people,” he regretted.
He said that on the one hand, the prices of flour and other commodities are increasing on a daily basis and, on the other, political parties are quarreling with each other, ignoring the problems being faced by common people. “I would request the chief minister to intervene in the matter immediately as it will be a great help of the poor people,” he appealed.
According to Muhammad Abdul Rahim, a representative of the Lahore Chakki Atta Association, wheat prices are increasing almost on a daily basis, forcing them to enhance flour price.
“A couple of days before, 40kg wheat rate ranged between Rs3,500 and Rs3,600, but now it has reached Rs4,300, forcing the chakki owners to increase flour price to Rs130 per kg,” he argued.
Mr Rahim said that since the chakki owners purchased wheat from the open market, they cannot sell flour on cheaper rates. “We are really confused to see such a situation that seems to be out of control of the government,” he added.
The Lahore Muttahida Nan Roti Association also feared an increase in the prices of roti and naan over the next couple of days keeping in view a rise in the rates of simple and fine flour. “We have no option but to increase roti and naan prices after the recent increase in the prices of simple and fine flour that have reached Rs1,750 from Rs1,450 per 15kg bag and Rs9,500 from Rs8,600 per 80kg bag, respectively,” the association’s chairman Aftab Gill said while talking to Dawn.
He urged the government to resolve the issues being faced by the association in view of the skyrocketing prices of simple and fine flour.
When contacted, Lahore district food controller Muhammad Amjad claimed that the public at large was being provided flour (super fine atta being made at flour mills) on subsidised rates of Rs648 (10kg bag) and Rs1,295 (20kg bag).
“Under the policy, we give wheat on controlled prices to flour mills as per their quota that supply flour, called super fine atta, to the market on subsidised rates. But we are not supplying wheat now to tandoor owners, which we once used to give to them a couple of months ago during the tenure of then DC Umar Sher Chatha,” he explained.
Talking to Dawn, Lahore DC Muhammad Ali said chakki atta came under luxury item that is not used by everyone. “It is costly item that is used by the rich, and not the poor. And we cannot regulate chakki atta since the owners procure wheat from open market and sell flour on their price,” he said.
He said the administration would ensure that roti and naan are sold at Rs14 and Rs22, respectively, by all means despite an increase in the prices of simple and fine flour in the market.
Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2022