RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD  - Expressing concerns over nominal difference in the prices of kitchen items, especially fruits and vegetables, citizens have demanded of the Punjab government to ensure supply of these items at subsidised rates in open market rather in few sasta bazaars in the city.

A survey conducted by this agency revealed that people were reluctant to visit sasta bazaar, as prices of all items of daily use were higher than the open market and the checking staff was not available to listen to public complaints.

They said that grapes were being sold at the rate of Rs300 per kilogram. Dates were available at the rate of Rs 200 per kilogram and low quality apples were being sold at the rate of Rs 150 per kilogram. They said it is not possible for poor to buy rather wish fruits for Iftar. Besides, quality of fruits and other items is substandard.  Fruit vendors suggested that there should be a proper mechanism to control prices at all levels, adding, “If we will get fruit and vegetable on higher prices from market, how can we sell them at cheaper rates.”

Azeem Khan, a resident of Saddiqabad, said that there was nothing at Ramazan Bazaar because all items were being sold at higher prices. The quality of items was low but consumers could not complain against them due to absence of price magistrates in the bazaar, he added.

A housewife, Munawara Kashif said that the Ramazan Bazaar at Liaquat Bagh gave a deserted look due to its poor management. There was no price difference in Ramazan Bazaars and the open market.

It was learnt that Committee Chowk Ramazan Bazaar has failed to provide relief to public and Price Control Magistrate, Aftab Chohan was changed from the bazaar due to poor management.

The citizens demanded of the Punjab government should provide relief to the public in the open market rather than establishing some Ramazan Bazaars at some parts of the city.

Meanwhile, stalls in subsidised bazaar operating under Islamabad district administration are selling stale meat and substandard fruits, creating problems for the common people.

Sources said subsidised bazaar in Sector G-7/2, Islamabad was established to facilitate common man but white meat and other items sold here are of low quality.

In-charge of the control room organised in the bazaar, Assistant Commissioner, Muhammad Ali and Food Controller, Chaudhary Muhammad Afzal are well aware of the pitiable state of affairs but no action has been taken to end the problem.

According to sources, food controller also gets a share from the consumer items being sold in the bazaar and therefore he avoids taking action against the shopkeepers.  Sources further said most of the stalls situated in this bazaar are those of the partisans and workers of Pakistan People’s Party who have close relations with the district administration, Islamabad.

Meanwhile, with the advent of Ramazan, the use of used cooking oil and ghee for frying edibles is going on unchecked, putting people’s health at risk in twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Most of vendors fry edibles in used oil and do not change it despite using it for many days.

It is observed that many vendors and shopkeepers mix new oil in already used oil, which is a very dangerous practice. The consumers of these fried items have demanded that the concerned authorities to stop these practice by the vendors. It is also a matter of concern that these items are prepared in unhygienic conditions. Most of the people in this business do not adopt any measure to maintain the quality of oil as well as to increase the useful life of frying oils. A large number of vendors and shopkeepers are selling unhygienic food, drinks and beverages that are causing various diseases. Most of the stalls of channa chart, fruit chart, cold drinks and other eatables set up particularly at roadsides and in streets of the twin cities are selling unhygienic food items. The residents urged the authorities to take notice of the situation and ensure elimination of selling of unhygienic food and drinks.

When an official of food quality control was contacted, he claimed that crackdowns were conducted regularly against the violators and strict action was taken in this regard. He said the authorities would not allow any body to play with health of the people. He said that special teams would monitor the sale points and would fine those who sell food and beverages in unhygienic conditions.