Punjab seals border to stop wheat, flour movement

August 04, 2020

LAHORE: The Punjab government has imposed a ban on the movement of highly subsidized wheat and its products to other provinces, especially Sindh.Following what an official said 'illegal...

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LAHORE: The Punjab government has imposed a ban on the movement of highly subsidized wheat and its products to other provinces, especially Sindh.

Following what an official said 'illegal transportation of wheat and flour to other provinces, especially Sindh', Punjab on Monday set up special checkpoints along the border of other provinces while deputing staff of the Food Department to restrict grains movement. The ban has been imposed as wheat and flour are being sent illegally to other provinces to fetch higher price prevalent in Sindh and other provinces if compared with Punjab. The ban on wheat transportation has been imposed on Punjab's border districts.

On Monday, the district food controller, Rahim Yar Khan, issued an order to establish five checkpoints in this regard. The check-posts have been set up at Kotsabzal, Dao Wala, Iqbalabad, Zahir Pir and T.M.Pannah. The DFC said as the movement of wheat and its products out of the province have been restricted, the staff is posted at check-pots to implement the directions. The Sindh government earlier on April 4, 2020 stopped transportation of its wheat purchased by the private sector to Punjab. It was in contrast to an earlier decision to allow 10 flour mills from Lahore and Sheikhupura to purchase 300 metric tonnes of wheat each from five districts of the province.

Sindh issued permits with consultation of the Punjab Food Department to facilitate transportation of wheat to Punjab. Later, the officials of the Sindh Food Department barred trucks loaded with wheat from leaving from various districts in spite of production of an NOC issued by the Sindh government.

Commenting on the development, a flour mill owner said a uniform wheat policy should be followed by all provinces. As wheat production and procurement targets have been set by the centre with consultation of all provinces, the policy should also be uniform in terms of release date and price, he said and added that lack of coordination among provinces on key wheat issues would be disastrous and lead to distortion in grain market. Such a situation would also be against the interest of consumers. Moreover, the flour mill owner claimed that Punjab is not forcefully imposing ban on transportation of wheat and its products to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the PTI government has been facing uphill task of meeting flour demand and keeping its price at reasonable level.

He said Punjab has not only issued special permits to flour mills for selling wheat products to KP traders but also didn't forcefully impose restrictions on its transportation out of the province. He said Punjab officially imposed an unannounced ban on the movement of wheat but it is not being followed in letter and spirit on roads linking Punjab with KP. He said the very purpose of issuing wheat from government stocks to flour mills at highly subsidized rates would be lost if grains start to land in other provinces. Hence not only a uniform wheat release policy is to be implemented but border curbs should also be imposed strictly.

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