LAHORE - Number of Sunday bazaars in the City declined from 13 to 8 in some months only despite these weekly markets have been known to offer good quality commodities at fair prices but the situation has changed as only substandard fruits and vegetables adorn Sunday bazaar stalls now.

In this regard, some district government officials were of the view that managing Sunday bazaar on such a large scale was not easy. However, they affirmed that the price and food quality issues would be resolved soon.

Moreover, vendors of fair price shops in Sunday bazaars are fleecing the consumers by not displaying original price lists issued by the Price Control Committee through Sunday bazaars’ market committees at visible places at stalls and are selling unhygienic and overpriced commodities allegedly under the cover of CDGL officials. Some consumers, expressing displeasure over the performance of the officials and poor mechanism enacted by the authorities concerned regarding controlling prices in these weekly bazaars and said that such bazaars were being established with a purpose to facilitate the low-income segment of the society but unfortunately these bazaars failed to deliver.   Although, rates of 14 species of vegetables out of 30 and 17 species of fruits, enlisted in the official rate lists increased suddenly as compare to the last Sunday because of poor monitoring system, which certainly could not be controlled by the authorities because of leniency of the market committees’ members who though are bound to implement the directions of the price control committee in letter and spirit.  That is why the vendors and stallholders were continuing overcharging and fleece practice and unchecked by the officials concerned and the consumers were paying rates higher than the official ones, said a consumer Falak Sher.

Though the higher authorities were punishing the vendors, by imposing fines and canceling stalls of some of the shopkeepers on account of overcharging in violation of the rate lists and selling substandard and low quality daily use products especially the vegetables and fruits, but all in vain because of loose grip of the authorities on the concerned officials, he added. A Sunday bazaar consumer Zaheer said that there was no price control due to the large conflict between the official and shopkeeper’s prices, adding that he made several complaints but there the government took no action.

He complained that shopkeepers were free to demand whatever price they wanted. “Buying from the Sunday market has become so confusing, if we want a fair price, the quality is terrible, and if we do not want to compromise the quality, then it is just unaffordable for us.

In this regard some consumers suggested the punishment as a check or accountability of the vendors is insufficient according to the severity of the act of such stallholders who are contributing diseases among the citizens by selling unhygienic edibles which was a criminal negligence and they must be taken up as criminals.  In some Sunday bazaars including Shadman, Shalimar, Johar Town and Model Town no senior official was seen controlling the bazaar and the visitors were at the vendors’ mercy, compelled to buy low quality products. Many Sunday market visitors opined that these bazaars required senior officers’ constant attention otherwise consumers would continue to be cheated in the interest of selfish profiteering. Residents of above said vicinities demanded the administration to take strict action against vendors selling low quality fruits and vegetables at high rates.

Meanwhile, Provincial Minister for Food and Chairman Price Control Committee Punjab, Bilal Yasin has said that government is striving to provide essential items to the masses at cheaper rates in the province.  He said that instructions have been issued to district administration to keep a vigilant eye on the prices of food items and besides activating market committees, abundance supply of daily use commodities will be ensured.

He was monitoring rates of food items at Sunday Bazaars of Shadman and Gulshan-e-Ravi.  He said that the system of fixing and checking prices of essential commodities has been given a practical shape under which edibles are available to the citizens at the fixed rates.

The Minister, while giving instructions to security officer at Sunday Bazaar Gulshan-e-Ravi Aleem Sulehri directed that separate checking counters for women be set up at the entry points. He also directed sanitation staff to ensure cleanliness. He especially checked the rate lists provided by the market committee at the vegetable counters and inquired from the consumers about the availability of food items at fixed rates.  He said that Punjab government considers provision of essential items to the masses at reasonable rates as its responsibility.