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Flour price in Hyderabad up amid wheat shortage

January 29, 2013

HYDERABAD, Jan 28: Price of wheat flour has risen to Rs440 per 10 kg bag from Rs420 a bag in the open market and almost 50 per cent of chakkis have pulled down shutters because of a serious shortage of wheat caused by the food department’s new policy.

The city’s chakkis which used to get around 100,000 wheat bags of 100 kg a month are receiving a quota of around 27,000 a month under the new policy based on number of millstones a chakki has.The chakkis consumed their quota within days and started buying wheat from the open market at the rate of Rs3,600 a 100 kg bag to meet the demand.

Atta Chakki Owners Social Welfare Association president Javaid Qureshi said the food department discriminated against chakkis. Under the previous policy called liberal policy, chakkis received over 100,000 100-kg bags at the fixed rate of Rs2,800 a bag. But under the new policy, chakkis had so far received only 25,000 bags of 27,000 allocated for Hyderabad.

He said that Shahnawaz Magsi, special coordinator for the Sindh food minister, had promised at a meeting held here on Jan 7 that the department would supply extra wheat to Hyderabad but the promise had not yet been fulfilled.

He said that chakki owners were being forced to shut down their businesses. About 50 per cent of chakkis had been closed in the city because of persistent shortage and unusual rise in wheat prices, he said.

Mr Qureshi said that about 90-95 per cent of Hyderabad residents ate flour supplied by chakkis and shunned flourmills’ fine flour. There are 236 registered chakkis and seven roller flourmills in the city, he said.

He accused officials of the food department of selling 100-kg bags of wheat in the open market at Rs3,600. Hyderabad’s quota of over 100,000 bags a month was reduced to 27,000 bags while only 25,000 bags had been supplied so far to chakkis.

District Food Controller Masood Ahmad Siddiqui said the department had set up 18 mobile stalls across the city, which were selling a 10-kg bag of flourmill’s four for Rs345.

The department was getting around 15,000 to 16,000 bags of 10 kg flour daily from seven roller mills to control price spiral in the open market, he said.

He said the district government must step in to control rising prices because its officials had magisterial powers to control price hike.

The food department had no mechanism for prices, he said. He said the department had allocated a quota of 34,000 100-kg wheat bags for Hyderabad, Tando Mohammad Khan, Matiari and Tando Allahyar and it had already supplied the quota to these districts.

Many shopkeepers have stopped selling flour to avoid altercations with consumers over the extra high price.

Amjad Khan, a shopkeeper in Pathan Colony, said that he had stopped keeping flour for sale as its price kept rising by the day and it was beyond him to argue with frustrated consumers.