The provincial government has granted magisterial powers to field officers to curb profiteering, hoarding and sale of unhygienic food during Ramazan. The government has also directed the divisional commissioners and regional police officers (RPOs) to ensure security, and easy supply of essential items during the month.
The Industries Department has set up a monitoring cell to keep a watch over the prices of essential items, the sehri and iftari dastarkhwans set up by the DCOs and the smooth operation of the Ramazan Bazaars. The cell is to work round the clock and send a daily report to the chief minister. The chief secretary is supervising another cell that will also monitor prices.
Field officers of several departments have been granted powers for summary trial to control prices of essential commodities. These officers would exercise executive magistrate’s powers against the offences arising out of the Punjab Local Government Ordinance, 2001, the Price Control Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding Act, 1977, Pure Food Ordinance 1960, West Pakistan Food Stuff Control Act, 1958 and Ihtram-i-Ramazan Ordinance 1969.
District government officers can now conduct raids, impose fines of up to Rs1,000 and seize substandard and unhygienic food.
They also have to ensure the availability of vegetables, fruits, grams, spices, flour, sugar, chicken, meat, beef and dates at prices set by market committees. The officers also have the authority to arrest and fine those found eating or drinking in public during the month.
The Home Department has directed the divisional commissioners, the RPOs and the Capital City Police Officer to prepare contingency plans for Ramazan. The department has issued guidelines for the preparation of such plans including measures required to regulate prices, thwarting the adulteration of food, preventing hoarding and black marketing of food items and the smooth flow of traffic particularly at iftar. The department has also directed officers to ensure the security of places of worship and Sunday and Ramazan Bazaars.
The government has also nominated cabinet members to monitor the arrangements for the Ramazan package, the bazaars and the availability of food items.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2011.
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