While the government is striving to provide relief to the people through Ramazan Bazaars set up by district administrations to provide quality items at affordable prices during the month, the rates in other markets have gone out of control.
With Ramazan approaching, shopkeepers increased the prices of essential commodities across the city. Citizens visiting the markets across the city complained that the prices of vegetables, fruits and meat had skyrocketed.
With the aim of providing relief to the citizens by offering cheap essential commodities without compromising on their standard before the holy month, the task of setting up 313 Ramazan Bazaars in 36 districts of the province was assigned to the district administrations.
In Lahore, as in other districts, the responsibility has been assigned to the district administration instead of the metropolitan corporation as per the law.
The Punjab government will provide subsidy of about Rs8 billion to the citizens through the special bazaars across the province. The district administration registered contractors for setting up the Ramazan Bazaars and started preparations in this regard.
The district administration of Lahore had been given the target of setting up 30 Ramazan Bazaars across the city and the work has almost been completed. In the markets, sugar, flour, vegetables, fruits and other essentials are being provided to the citizens at affordable prices.
The authorities have given 11 existing model bazaars the status of Ramazan Bazaars while the rest have been set up at new locations. In the special bazaars, sugar is being sold at Rs65 per kg and 10kg bag of flour for Rs375 after noting the telephone number of the customers.
The price of sugar in the general market is Rs100 per kg. Due to the difference of Rs35 per kg, the sugar stock in the Ramazan Bazaars ran out in the evening.
The district administration has set up five Ramazan Bazaars each in Nishtar and Iqbal zones, four in Gulbarg, three each in Ravi, Samnabad, Data Ganj Bakhsh, Aziz Bhatti and Shalamar zones and two in Wagah zone.
Where the visitors are required to wear face masks, some shopkeepers are seen working without masks.
Meanwhile, the shopkeepers in the general markets have already increased the prices of goods before Ramazan, defying the district administrations and price control magistrates.
The official price of mutton is Rs900 but it is being sold at around Rs1,400 per kg. Beef is being sold for Rs700 instead of the official rate of Rs550.
Potato is being sold at Rs60 per kg instead of Rs41, onion Rs40 instead of Rs21, tomato Rs70 instead of Rs42, garlic Rs130 instead of Rs95, ginger Rs400 instead of Rs320, bitter gourd Rs100 instead of Rs62 and green chilies Rs100 instead of Rs73.
Lemon is becoming more expensive and is being sold in the city at Rs200 to Rs250 per kg instead of Rs150 set by the government.
Similarly, white apple is being sold at Rs100 per kg instead of Rs62, banana Rs100 per dozen instead of Rs52, papaya Rs200 per kg instead of Rs130, melon Rs60 instead of Rs39 and Iranian dates Rs300 instead of Rs225.
The price of poultry meat could not be reduced from Rs330 per kg.
A customer said while talking to The Express Tribune that the shopkeepers were creating artificial inflation and the district administration should pay attention to the markets across the city along with the Ramazan Bazaars. He said more than 80 per cent people of the city bought the necessities of life from markets near their homes and the administration should also take steps to provide relief to them.
When contacted, Lahore Commissioner Muhammad Usman said the special bazaars had been opened before Ramazan where the citizens had access to cheap items. He said the facilities at the bazaars would be improved. All deputy commissioners have been instructed to take stern action against shopkeepers resorting to overcharging.
Deputy Commissioner Mudassar Riaz Malik said the number of the markets could be increased if the need arose.
The Commissioner's Office, police, district administration, municipal corporation, traffic police, parking company, LWMC, health and rescue officers have been assigned responsibilities regarding the bazaars, while the market committees along with agriculture, livestock and industry departments’ officers have tasked with ensuring the supply of commodities.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2021.