Protests against delay in unloading of wheat

Dawn May 17, 2009

KASUR, May, 16: Hundreds of farmers staged a demonstration against food department officials to protest what they called inordinate delays in unloading of wheat trucks in Shamkot on Saturday.

Led by Sardar Ashaq Dogar, the demonstrators blocked Allahabad Road and threw traffic out of gear for some time. Later, the demonstrators dispersed on the intervention of Allahabad DSP.

Similarly, hundreds of farmers staged a demonstration here on Friday to protest what they called inordinate delays in unloading of wheat trucks. Led by Ghulam Abbas, the protesters said that they were waiting for the unloading for the last four to five days. Later, they dispersed on an assurance given by some revenue department officials.

Before unloading, the farmers have to undergo a lengthy procedure to verify whether the wheat owner is a farmer or a middleman. It is learnt that the middlemen obtain ‘fard’ (agricultural land’s title deed) from farmers while purchasing wheat, making possible their entry to the procurement centre without any hindrance.

Some farmers, however, urged the government to maintain a record of the land on which wheat had been cultivated and then collect wheat from growers.

Scores of revenue officers and patwaris are deployed at the procurement centres to verify the particulars of the growers.

However, no case has been registered against any middleman on these centres so far and the procedure has only caused inconvenience for the farmers as about 150 truckloads of wheat are yet to be unloaded.

In Phoolnager, farmers protested when the authorities closed the procurement centre with the announcement that the target had been met. This led the farmers standing in the queues for the past three days to launch an instant protest on Saturday.

Phoolnagar Kisan Board president Haji Muhammad Ramzan has condemned the situation, alleging that the poor implementation of the Punjab government’s wheat procurement policy by the district administration had created problem for farmers.—Correspondent

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