RE - The Punjab government on Thursday admitted it had nothing to do with 40 to 50 per cent cut made in sugarcane by the mill-owners when it reaches their premises, since the Cane Commissioners Punjab has no concern with the issue.
Provincial Minister Food Malik Nadeem Kamran told this to the House here on Thursday, while giving replies about the Food Department during the Question-Hour. He was given tough time by the members belonging to both Treasury and Opposition benches, while Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan repeatedly rephrased members statements, and showed his concern about the revelation made by the Minister regarding cut on sugarcane by mill owners.
Much to the dismay of members, Malik Nadeem averred his government did not take any action against the sugar mill owners since it had not received any written complaints from the sugarcane growers. Secondly, the Minister also added this matter did not concern the Cane Commissioner. At this, Ahsan-ul-Haq Naulatia, while raising a supplementary question, quizzed whether the government had taken any steps so far when the sugar mill owners were indulging in cuts even up to 50 per cent.
When the Minister asserted that the government had nothing to do with it, the Speaker questioned the former whether he knew what he was talking about. What is the reason that the government not taking any notice of it when a grower is victimised through deductions in the crop? Does the government have any sympathy for the growers? he further questioned the Minister.
The Minister replied the government did not take action because no complaints were launched. At this, Naulatia challenged him that hundreds and thousands of complaints were submitted. Instead of rebutting it, the Minister went mum, and perhaps retreated from his previous statements. At this, Naulatia said he would bring a Privilege Motion against the Minister for the latters statement, while adding that the farmers had suffered losses worth billions of rupees because of the mill owners, while the government had not taken action in this regard.
Opposition Leader Ch Zaheer-ud-Din quizzed the Minister about the department dealing with the sugarcane mill owners, if the Food Department was not doing anything about it.
Malik Nadeem told the House that the government had made the mill owners make payments to the farmers that were due in billions of rupees. It is because of the thoughtfulness that the government had purchased six million metric tones of wheat from the farmers, he mentioned.
The Speaker directed the Minister that from now onwards, in case of any complaint submitted with the Food Department, it should deal with it immediately within 15 days. The Minister assured the Speaker for this.
The Minister also informed the House that the government would purchase four million metric tones wheat this year, while the target could be increased as well. To increase the capacity of wheat storage, the government has signed a contract with a company for the construction of godowns, and PC-I of this project has been outlined, he said, while adding that currently the wheat storage capacity in the Punjab was about 2.2 million metric tones.