Growers demand end to gunny bag quota for senators, MNAs, MPAs

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HYDERABAD DawnNews: The Sindh Abad­­gar Board on Wednesday demanded distribution of gunny bags among farmers under supervision of judiciary and called for an end to unjustifiable quota in the bags for senators, MNAs, MPAs and office-bearers of the ruling party.
SAB president Abdul Majeed Nizamani, Mahmood Nawaz Shah, Haji Nadeem Shah, Zain Shah and others said at a press conference at the local press club that chief justices of Supreme Court and Sindh High Court should take suo motu notice of the situation with regard to gunny bags and order their timely distribution.
They sought action against government functionaries involved in large-scale corruption in the wheat procurement process and called for starting the process from April 1 at all costs. They said that judicial oversight would ensure transparent distribution of gunny bags down to the taluka level.
They regretted that over five weeks had passed but the distribution of bags had not yet started in Sindh. Regrettably, it was not happening for the first time as growers had to face the same situation every year and most of them were denied the bags because of corruption.
They said that delayed start of wheat procurement inflicted financial losses on growers and alleged that billions of rupees corruption took place in food department every year but no inquiry had ever been conducted against corrupt officers.
They said that Sindh government had fixed procurement target of wheat this year at 1.4 million tonnes for which 14 million bags were to be distributed to procure the grain at the support price of Rs1,300 per 40kg.
They said that SAB had learned that a plan was afoot for committing mega corruption in the distribution of bags according to which 4.7 million bags would go ‘missing’ and never make it to the procurement centres.
The remaining 9.294 million bags would fall prey to nepotism as they would be doled out to parliamentarians, ministers, advisers and district office bearers of the ruling party under an unjustifiable quota system despite the fact that these individuals did not own even a single acre of farmland.
They said that it looked next to impossible for procurement centre in-charges to run the centres and meet the procurement target as well. The delay thus caused in distribution of bags would force growers to sell their produce on lower price in open market, they said.
They said that food department had to purchase wheat at a cost of Rs45.50 billion which would then fall prey to corruption and nepotism.
They said that food department was supposed to pay Rs60 each for 100kg wheat bag to a grower as transportation and labour charges but the amount had not been paid to them for the past several years. According to an estimate, Rs840 million were embezzled every year on this account alone and no one had ever taken notice of it, they said.
PST to move court over civic issues
Pakistan Sunni Tehreek (PST) has decided to file separate petitions in Supreme Court registry, Karachi, and Sindh High Court, Hyderabad circuit bench, against officials responsible for nagging civic problems in Hyderabad.
PST Hyderabad president Imran Soharwardi, flanked by party leaders Allama Amjad Habib and Shafique Meo Qadri, said at a news conference at the local press club on Wednesday that the petitions would be filed on April 2 against Hyderabad commissioner, deputy commissioner, mayor, deputy mayor, municipal commissioner, Water and Sanita­tion Agency (Wasa) managing director and other officials concerned.
He said the party leaders had earlier made several complaints to Sindh chief minister and other officials concerned against rising civic problems, including contaminated water, stagnating sewage, potholed roads, poor health and education facilities, excessive loadshedding, inflated electricity bills, low gas pressure and increasing unemployment.

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