QUETTA: A division bench of the Balochistan High Court (BHC) has reserved its judgement in a case relating to alleged irregularities in wheat procurement and the distribution of gunny sacks among the growers.

On Thursday, the ben­ch comprising Chief Jus­tice Hashim Khan Kakar and Justice Shaukat Ali Rakh­shani heard the pet­ition filed by the food dep­art­ment’s director general regarding his transfer and alleged irregularities.

Balochistan Chief Min­ister Sarfaraz Bugti appe­ared before the court after being summoned along with the chief secretary. The latter didn’t appear due to official engagements.

During the hearing, the CM stated that 150,000 gunny bags (bardana) had been distributed among farmers at a cost of Rs42 million.

He requested permission to procure 150,000 bags of wheat, with the remaining allocated funds for grain procurement to be spent on other welfare initiatives.

The chief minister stated that welfare work will be carried out in Jaf­farabad and Naseerabad with the remaining funds.

A technical college will be established through a public-private partnership in Naseerabad and Jaffarabad. Projects for clean drinking water and a hospital will be initiated in Naseerabad, similar to Gambat in Sindh.

Chief Justice Kakar remarked that the wheat purchased by the food department is either smuggled to Afghanistan or rots in warehouses.

He added that the chief minister’s proposals were commendable.

The chief justice said Section 144 imposed on transportation of wheat should be lifted.

The Nasirabad division produces 12 million bags of wheat every year, but the government only buys 500,000 bags by enforcing Section 144 and over nine million bags go to waste in the growers’ godowns.

The chief justice also noted that there were many complaints regarding the Balochistan chief secretary and his performance, which was satisfactory in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but has not been replicated in the province.

The bench then reser­ved the decision in the case, which will be announced later.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2024

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