LAHORE- All the flour millers in Punjab plan to go on strike from May 17 to protest the inter-district ban on the wheat movement as well as on buying the commodity from the open market. Mills will suspend their operation from Saturday (tomorrow) because of the non-availability of wheat. The outcome of this exercise may lead to another food shortage in the province particularly in the city in coming days.   'We don't have any other option but to go on strike as we don't have wheat to grind. We are also not in a position to sell the flour on the existing prices,' Chairman All Pakistan Flour Mills Association (Punjab Branch) Habib-ur-Rehman Leghari flanked by former Chairman Khaleeq Arshad told the reporters while addressing a news-conference here on Thursday. He said the supreme council of the PFMA at its meeting has decided to go on strike from May 17 because, not only, it is difficult for the millers to sell the flour on the existing prices but also because it has become impossible for them to continue with their business.   He said there was no guarantee of getting wheat purchase permit being issued to the flour mills as the Punjab Food Department and district administration has started lifting the wheat stocks from the flour mills. He also said that the officials are also lifting wheat from mills at the rate Rs 625 per 40-kg, despite the fact that the millers had bought the commodity at the rate of Rs 700 per 40-kg from the open market. Responding to a question, Khaleeq Arshad said they held several meetings with the top officials of the food department and brought the situation to their notice but they were not serious to redress the grievances of the millers. He blamed department for creating hurdles in the way of flourmills for wheat purchase despite having issued wheat permits to the millers. He said that under such circumstances they decided to bring the matter to the notice of Chief Secretary and Chief Minister Punjab besides demanding immediate issue of wheat quota to the flourmills. He said the millers had also forwarded letters to the CM Punjab to this effect but he paid no heed to the their demand. On April 15, the Punjab government pledged in the presence of CM Sardar Dost Mohammad Khosa, Secretary Food and Director Food Punjab that the millers would be issued permits to let them purchase wheat stocks from other districts. The government also assured them that they would be allowed to stock wheat equal to their 72 hours grinding capacity but the agreement was not implemented practically. Therefore, he said, 'we are going on strike'. It may be noted here that the government had imposed undeclared ban on the inter-district ban on the wheat movement in order to facilitate the food department to procure maximum wheat during the procurement season. The government also did not allow the flour millers and private sector to buy wheat from the growers. Under these circumstances, the food department has badly failed to achieve its three million tons wheat procurement target because of decline in wheat production this year and the Punjab government has decided to import two million tons of wheat to overcome the shortfall.