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LAHORE: The Punjab government in an ongoing crackdown against the middlemen involved in illegal purchase of sugarcane arrested 71 persons and registered 164 cases against them across the province to ensure that farmers get a due return of their produce. The authorities also sealed 266 illegal weighbridges besides imposing fines worth Rs320,000.

These details were presented during a meeting chaired by Senior Provincial Minister Abdul Aleem Khan. Provincial Minister for Industries Mian Aslam Iqbal, the chief secretary Punjab, administrative secretaries of industries, food and agriculture departments, commissioner Lahore, CEO Urban Unit, and officers concerned attended the meeting. The divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners participated through video link. The meeting reviewed the sugarcane crushing season and prices and availability of essential commodities, especially sugar.

Aleem Khan suggested the import of sugar to stabilize the prices. He said that the Prime Minister’s decision to import wheat proved to be right as the price of flour has decreased significantly which brought relief to the common man. He said the price of flour has come down to the lowest level of seven months in the province, and a bag of flour is available at less than the fixed rate.

Provincial Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal asked the secretary of agriculture to devise a mechanism for forecasting the production, demand, and supply of commodities including fruits and vegetables to avoid shortage of any item. He mentioned that the provision of relief to the common man is the top priority and the government would take all possible steps to ensure the availability of essential commodities at fixed rates.

The chief secretary said that the middlemen exploit farmers by purchasing sugarcane at lower prices, adding that the government would protect the rights of growers in any case. He directed the deputy commissioners to continue crackdown on the middlemen and illegal weighbridges. He said those, who are fleecing the consumers by artificially increasing the prices of goods, are the culprits and would be dealt with iron hands. The chief secretary also issued instructions regarding timely and full payments to farmers by the sugar mills.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021