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Artificial flour crisis continues

TAXILA, Jan 15: While the local administration is busy with the long march, unavailability of flour in one dozen flour mills remains a serious issue.

Recently the Punjab government fixed the new rate at 20-kilogramme per bag of ‘atta’ at Rs670, while retailers were openly violating the orders and selling it against the official price.

In Taxila and adjoining areas, dealers were supplying 3 to 5 bags of 20 kilogrammes for Rs690 to shops and retailers.

Moreover, adding insult to injury the public representatives of the ruling party in the province seem to be in slumber, leaving thousands of inflation-hit people to fend for themselves.

As a result, residents of Taxila, Wah Cantt, Hassanabdal and surrounding areas have been forced to buy flour at inflated rates after shortage of the commodity intensified.

Talking to Dawn, local people demanded that the government take notice of flour dealers who are fleecing consumers by selling flour above fixed prices. They said that the artificial shortage had been created by hoarders and the administration was doing nothing about it.

Shaukat Pervaiz, a resident of railway road said that shopkeepers had been selling 20-kg flour bag against Rs720 to 730, violating the official price of Rs670 of a 20-kg flour bag fixed by the Punjab government.Mohammad Zubair, a resident of Bilal Colony said that he did not understand why ‘atta’ is not available, when the Punjab government had even increased its rate. He said a 20-kg bag of ‘atta’ was available for Rs735 at Utility Stores Corporation (USC) outlets, which was substandard.

Tanzeel Mudassir, belonging to a political party said that the profiteers were sucking the blood of the poor while the authorities concerned were not doing anything.

Commissioner Rawalpindi Division Imdad Ullah Bosal, District Coordination Officer (DCO) Saqib Zafar and District Food Controller (DFC) were not taking action against them, Mr Mudassir complained.

According to locals, some shopkeepers had stocked huge quantity of flour bags in their warehouse to earn illegal profit.

Meanwhile, Utility Stores Corporation (USC) had increased the price of 20-kg ‘atta’ bag by Rs90 through a notification.

As per notification the new price of a 20-kg ‘atta’ bag is Rs735, against its previous price of Rs645. Residents of the twin cities of Taxila and Wah Cantonment appealed to Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif to take strict notice against those responsible for the shortage.