LAHORE: Flour millers have announced strikes across Punjab from Monday (tomorrow) after having dispute with the provincial food department over wheat quota and raids on mills.
The announcement is feared to create a shortage of flour in Lahore and other cities of the province. Sources told Dunya News that the wheat quota of more than 100 mills had been suspended and that some mills in Lahore, Gujrat and Multan had already halted their operations.
Sources further said the provincial food secretary had ordered to lodge cases against 10 mills and that he wanted to get mill owners arrested.
According to Punjab Flour Mills Association (PFMA) president Iftikhar Matto, the millers want the food department to check the mills as per the defined standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Punjab Food Secretary Zaman Watto, on the other hand, said no legal action was decided against the millers and that 80 per cent of mills had lifted their quota of wheat. He claimed that the majority of millers were against the strike.
He, however, said the data of those, who were involved in four shortages by inciting others for holding strikes, was being gathered and shared with the departments concerned.
Earlier, Dunya News reported that preparations were started to arrest the owners of flour mills in Punjab after the food secretary on Saturday ordered Deputy Commissioners of 36 districts to impose Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Ordinance starting from Rawalpindi.
On the direction of the food secretary, the District Food Controllers issued notices to take action against the leadership of Flour Mills Association. District Food Controller Rawalpindi has also sent an application to the Deputy Commissioner for legal action against seven Flour Mills Association officials.
In the application, an action has been requested against Khawaja Imran, Tariq Sethi, Samad Qureshi, Qayyum Sethi, Riyazullah Khan.
The district food controller Rawalpindi said the flour mill owners announced the strike in the press conference of the association and also provoked others.
The DFC also wrote in the letter that since the strike announcement was an attempt to create artificial shortage of flour in the market, action should be taken against the Flour Mills Association officials under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Ordinance, 1960.