KHANEWAL-Farmers held protest demonstrations at different wheat procurement centres over the refusal of the staff to issue gunny bags without bribe despite the farmers have fulfilled all the requirements for the purpose.

At Makhdoompur wheat-procurement centre, the farmers held a protest and blocked the road for traffic. They said that they presented all the required documents and deposited money in the bank.

They said that they had given all the documents to the co-coordinator of the centre to get gunny bags but to no avail. However, they added, after the elapse of many days, the staff has told them that their documents have lost and the gunny bags cannot be issued to them. They alleged that the co-coordinator is issuing the gunny bags to the brokers after taking bribe.

They said that like last years, the wheat growers are unable to get gunny bags this year. They said that quarrels take place at almost all the procurement centres of the district, and many cases have been registered against them for quarrelling at the procurement centres. They regretted that they are unable to get gunny bags without bribe.

They said that the staff members at wheat procurement centres, middlemen and brokers of different grain markets are making money in the name of wheat procurement. They alleged that the staff at all the procurement centres forced the farmers to give their documents to the middleman because they know that a common man is unable to get gunny bags from the centres.

When contacted, the Makhdoompur centre cocoordinator said that he was making a list with the coordination of growers but the Khanewal assistant commissioner told him that the list will be provided by the AC office. He said that he is not responsible for the problem as he is bound to follow the list provided by the AC office.

Similarly, the farmers organised a protest at Jahanian, Salar Wahen, Thatha Sadiqabad and different wheat-procurement centres in the district. The protestors said that in extremely hot season, the centres lack even basic facilities like drinking water. At Mohsinwal Centre, the farmers were of the view that centre in-charge is taking bribe to provide gunny bags. Due to the connivance between middleman and procurement staff, the farmers are forced to sell their grains at the rate of Rs1,100/40kg instead of government rate which is Rs1,300/40kg.

When contacted, the Food Department officials and procurement staff said that they carry forward stock of 2.7 million ton of wheat into third year and government still has stocks of 2014. They said that the government has failed to achieve the export target of Rs1.2 million ton despite offering an attractive subsidy. Even in the current season, the government did not reduce its target and is purchasing wheat from farmers at the rate of Rs1300/40kg. They said that the purchase target of district Khanewal is 1,850,000 bags of 100kg out of which district Khanewal has purchased more than 1,500,000 bags of wheat.