LAHORE - The Punjab government will set up special courts to hear the cases of food adulteration, as a part of ongoing campaign against the production and sale of unhealthy and unhygienic food items.

During a meeting here on Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered the authorities concerned to launch indiscriminate crackdown against those involved in preparing and selling adulterated items in province. The scope of taskforces should be expanded to nine divisional headquarters, he added.

The chief minister, in principle, gave approval of expanding the scope of Punjab Food Authority to other districts of Punjab. The meeting also decided to make punishments more deterrent against those who are preparing and selling substandard, unhygienic and adulterated items.

It was also decided in the meeting that amount of fine against adulterators will be raised than what already exists in law.

Shahbaz Sharif vowed the government would lay a strong hand on adulterators, directing that the role of Punjab Food Authority should be made more effective in Lahore. “PFA should be made an institution fully equipped with information technology,” he further said.

“The Punjab Information Technology Board should evolve a system jointly with Punjab Food Authority in this regard,” he added. He also said the taskforces, constituted in nine divisions of Punjab, will be fully empowered and authorised to take action against the criminals in their respective jurisdictions.

“Training of the heads and other staff of taskforces should be arranged, while the Punjab Food Authority staff should be trained abroad,” the CM said.

Shabaz Sharif also approved a pilot project for introducing modern model carts prepared for cart pushers in Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi. “The Punjab government will provide model carts to cart pushers for specific places where they will start their business,” he said and added the government would provide subsidy on model carts.

Provincial Ministers Rana Sanaullah, Bilal Yasin, MPAs Majid Zahoor, Iftikhar Ahmad, Abdul Razzaq Dhillon, Muhammad Ali Khokhar, Lahore Commissioner and other senior officials attended the meeting.

On August 6, Punjab Revenue Authority has inaugurated Restaurant Invoice Monitoring System in Lahore. In its first phase, software will be installed in 50 restaurants to receive record of the consumers.

On Wednesday, PRA Chairman Dr Raheel Siddiqui opened the System at Bistro 201 Restaurant. Revenue Member Mohi ud Din Wani, Commissioner Enforcement Javed Ahmed were also present on the occasion.

Talking to the media on the occasion, Siddiqui said the authority has planned registration of Shahi Qila Food Street, MM Alam Road and hotels around Qaddaffi Stadium in the first phase under Restaurant Invoice Monitoring System. “After expanding its scope to all the restaurants of Lahore, restaurants all over the province will be brought into the folds of the system,” he said. “The availability of this software will eliminate human interference and at the time of payment of bill in the restaurants, all information regarding tax deduction will reach the department. “Once this system gets operational, revenue receipt from restaurants will increase 40 times.” A prize scheme is also being introduced for special interest of citizens in this programme, and the consumers can win precious prizes every week by paying their bills at the registered hotels,” he added.

Dr Siddiqui said the authority would give prizes like vehicle, umrah tickets, laptops, mobiles and food coupons every week to the citizens.

The Punjab Food Authority, with the cooperation of hotels and restaurant owners, is providing food safety culture, said PFA Director General Dr Sajid Chauhan. He was addressing a training workshop of restaurants owners and managers arranged by PFA and CM’s Special Monitoring Units at Alhamra Hall. “A comprehensive ordinance is being introduced with regard to legal framework of Punjab Food Authority, hotels and restaurants categorisation and Appellate court,” Chauhan told the workshop particip ants. A food safety system is also being implemented with the help of hotel owners based on public friendly and hygienic principles, he added.