Flour relief package by Punjab govt

Hamid Javaid Awan
Sunday, Apr 09, 2023

Punjab Government, under the leadership of Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, in Ramazan, announced a unique scheme for the most deserving persons of the province to get three 10 kg bags of flour free of cost.

It is the first-ever initiative of any government in Pakistan which has introduced a need-based scheme for poverty-stricken people with a subsidy of Rs53 billion. A total number of more than 10 crore persons in the province would be benefitted during one month by getting bags of flour at 20 thousand outlets. Chief Minister Punjab monitors the entire flour bag distribution process and visits distribution centers established in different provinces. The members of the Caretaker Cabinet also pay visits to monitor flour distribution and take immediate actions to remove any bottleneck observed in implementing the Free Flour distribution scheme.

Initially, it was announced that the distribution of three 10 kg flour bags for a person would be completed in three phases; later, it was decided by the Caretaker Chief Minister Punjab to give two bags to each person at the time of his first entry to minimise the gathering of people at distribution points. The third one would be given afterward. To ensure the implementation of this unique scheme of its nature, Chief Secretary Punjab reviewed the pace of progress regularly and paid visits to different locations to examine the distribution process. Although it was an ambitious plan of the Caretaker Provincial Chief Minister and there was no such example of this scheme in the past, he made it possible with strong convictions to serve the masses in letter and spirit, and a huge number of people had so far benefitted. The already registered persons in Benazir Income Support Programme and Ehsass Ration Programme are eligible to get bags of flour.

Still, those with a monthly income of up to Rs60,000 can register themselves to avail of the facility. The Punjab Board of Informational Technology has developed a special app to verify the eligibility of deserving persons, and officials deputed are rendering services at all the flour distribution points by using this App. People who intend to check their eligibility were asked to type their CNIC No and send it to 8070. If they receive the message confirming their eligibility, they can proceed to the nearest distribution counter to receive bags of flour free of cost. Some incidents of impediment also occurred, claiming innocent lives due to stampedes at different locations. The chief minister took immediate action and directed officers of administration concern to explain the situation, adopt stringent measures to maintain discipline and observe strict compliance with SOP to save people’s lives.

Considering the rush of people, especially at urban areas flour distribution points, it was directed to keep the distribution process on 24/7 so that a maximum number of people could be facilitated. Flour distribution is also continued at local ‘karyana’ shops, utility stores and trucking points to avoid gathering people at main points. The quality and weight of 10 kg flour bags were also checked by the chief minister and his team of cabinet members during their visits. The caretaker government of Punjab has also implemented various other public welfare-oriented programs to mitigate the sufferings of the masses with the objective of extending them maximum facilities. The caretaker Chief Minister Punjab, while elaborating free flour distribution scheme, said that previously, the estimates for setting up Ramazan bazaars were over Rs5 billion while the rental expenditure of tents for Ramazan bazars was Rs2.5 billion, and this time, these resources converted into free flour scheme to facilitate the maximum number of deserving persons. It has been asked the people who want to get bags of flour in the hustle and bustle to observe passions because there is no scarcity of flour, and all eligible deserving persons would get flour bags free of cost.

Free flour information desk has also been established for sharing useful information with the visitors. Now, few days are left before the termination of the free ‘ata’ distribution scheme, and all-out efforts were made to ensure the provision of free ‘ata to the eligible deserving persons. The Caretaker Chief Minister of Syed Mohsin Naqvi has appreciated the efforts of the officers of administration and police and other allied concerned departments, which had facilitated the deserving persons at ata distribution points. The Punjab Cabinet members are still visiting the ‘ata’ distribution points to ensure the provision of free ‘ata’ bags among the eligible persons.