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Moreover, they said, the process of purchasing the 24 new vehicles has been hanging in the air for the past six months due to the lingering process of bureaucracy, and the negligent attitude of the officials concerned. This is despite the fact that the city government had said that the vehicles would be purchases on a priority basis.

During his recent visit of Karachi, the prime minister had announced that 20 more fire tenders and other necessary equipment will be provided to the department, but it will take time.

To top it all, the city’s fire department has only one complaint center located on Maulvi Abdul Haq Road near the Civil Hospital. “We have only eight lines. Sometimes false calls of fires not only interrupt the entire operation, but also engage the entire phone system”, Nasir Khan, an operator of the Fire Brigade Department’s Helpline 16, said.

The project to establish a training institute for firemen on 11.5 acres of land in the Saeedabad Fire Station, Baldia, is still in the doldrums, because most of the land has been encroached by the land mafia to construct their houses.

(By Jamil Khan, Daily Times-B1, 27/03/2007)

People suffer as milk retailers protest

KARACHI, March 21: A large number of fresh milk shops remained shut on Wednesday in various parts of the city as a mark of protest by retailers against the wholesalers for providing milk at Rs32 per litre instead of Rs26.

Many retailers had adopted the way of keeping their shutters down from last Saturday and displayed banners saying that they could not sell milk at Rs32 when they lifted it at the same rate from wholesalers.

In the banners it was also mentioned that they were ready to sell milk at control rate of Rs28 per litre provided the city government ensured supply of milk by the wholesalers at official wholesale rate of Rs26 per litre.

“Around 33 per cent shops out of the over 4,000 retailers (small to large) in the city were closed on Wednesday,” the president of the All Karachi Milk Retailers Welfare Association (AKMRWA), Hafiz Nisar, said.

Areas where milk sales remained suspended were F.B. Area, North Nazimabad, North Karachi, Surjani, Soldier Bazaar, Gulshan-i-Iqbal etc while partial shutdown of shops was recorded in other areas such as Landhi, Korangi, Malir, he added. In brief, he said milk sales remained suspended in at least five towns. It has been almost three months that the city government and the stakeholders of fresh milk business had locked horns over the official rate of Rs28 per litre on which the retailers had refused to sell milk.

Mr Nisar also claimed that the delay in reaching an agreement on fresh milk price in the last few months had compelled many retailers and dairy farmers to quit this business. “Around 15-20 per cent of retailers and farmers had either suspended their work or closed their business,” he said.

He said so far more than 2,500 retailers had faced heavy fines and imprisonment for overcharging from the consumers since September 2006 while dairy farmers and wholesalers were not questioned for not supplying milk at official wholesale rate of Rs26 per litre.

The Sindh High Court on March 6 directed the city government to convene a meeting of all stakeholders, including public representatives, on March 15 to consider the issue and revise the price after taking all relevant factors into consideration.

The petition will come up again after two months. Meanwhile, wholesalers would supply milk to retailers at Rs26 per litre and retailers will sell it for Rs28 per litre. However, the consumers have not seen implementation of the court’s order and buying milk at Rs32 per litre.

As per SHC directives, District Coordination Officer Fazlur Rahman held a meeting with all the stakeholders on March 15 and set up a 24-member committee comprising nine government officials and 13 industry people for the implementation of fair prices at the stage of production, wholesale and retail.

The committee will meet every week.

(By Aamir Shafaat Khan, Dawn-17, 22/03/2007)

APRIL

SHC fixes interim milk retail price at Rs32 per litre

Sindh High Court, while fixing interim prices for fresh milk on Tuesday, directed the retailers and wholesalers to sell milk in the city at Rs.32 and Rs.30 per liter, respectively.

The interim milk price of Rs.30 per liter for wholesalers and Rs.32 per liter for retailers have been fixed untill the committee - constituted to decide “fair and just” price of milk from the stage of production cost, wholesale price and retailersí valuation- comes up with its findings, the court observed.

The court also directed the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) to place the committee report on May 8.

The court fixed interim milk prices on the petition of All Karachi Milk Retailers Welfare Association, challenging the action of CDGK with regard to fixing fresh milk price and initiating criminal action against the members of the association.

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