LAHORE - No government mechanism exists for price control of cooked, grilled, fried or roasted meat like fish, chicken and mutton in the city.

Owners of restaurants, food outlets and food stalls across the city are making huge profits while few of them pay income tax. Most of them have not registered for sales tax. The other day 22 eateries were sealed in Bahria Town for non-payment of sales tax on services and for not getting their business concerns registered.

With the advent of the winter the eateries across the city have hugely increased the prices of food. The eatery hubs of Lakshmi Chowk, Food Street Old Anarkali, Food Street Gowalmandi, Food Street inside Texali Gate, Temple Road, Dharmpura, Islampura, Saddar, Wassanpura, Wahdat Road, Shalimar Link Road, Model Town Link Road, Township, Wapda Town, Allama Iqbal Town and Samanabad are selling meat dishes at more than triple price of uncooked meat.

These restaurants are selling a cooked dish of chicken karahi at Rs 700 per kg, roasted chicken Rs 500 to Rs 700, mutton karahi in Rs 1400 or Rs 1500 per kg and fried fish in Rs 600 to Rs 900 per kg. This is happening despite the fact that the rate of chicken mostly remains below Rs 200 per kg (Rs 184 on Tuesday while earlier it had gone to Rs 130), uncooked mutton is sold in market at Rs 600 to Rs 700 per kg, and fish is sold at Rs 150 to Rs 340 per kg.

The uptown posh areas MM Alam Road, Fortress Stadium, Garden Town, Bahria Town and Defence have not been included in this survey. They charge more but that can be justified for good service, neat and clean environment and ambience of the eateries as is the case with most international cities of the world.

In this regard, Punjab Food Authority Director General Sajid Chauhan told The Nation that the authority has no powers to check the prices of any product. “We can only check quality of food that is meat and whether the place is neat and clean or not,” he explained.

Spokesman for City District Government Lahore Imran Maqbool said there is no mechanism so far to check the price lists of restaurants while district price control committee can only check the prices of such essential products which are included in the CDGL’s issued price list.

A customer Usama Bhatti said that he and his friends love local dishes and arrange parties just for change the taste of meal and they often visit restaurants and other food outlets for enjoying food. However, he said that the owners of restaurants are charging undue profit. “They even do not bother the rates of meat in the market and charge the rate of dish according to their own will”, he added.

In this regard, Butt Sahib, an owner of a restaurant in Lakshami Chowk said all the owners of this market mutually decide to fix rates of all dishes. “No restaurant owner can violate the final price list issued,” he maintained.

Abdul Razaaq, a cook in a restaurant of Food Street Old Anarkali pointed out that restaurant owners measure the weight of ready to eat dish like one kg dish measured after mixing the other ingredients including cooking oil, vegetables and spices. “About 800 gram meat in a dish of one kilogram is served,” Razaaq said.