Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Monday approved a plan to set up four task forces to take action against businesses manufacturing and marketing substandard and adulterated food items.
It was decided that the province would be divided into four regions and a task force formed for each.
The meeting also decided to make manufacturing and marketing of substandard food items a non-bailable offence and increase the penalty for those found guilty of it. The Punjab Food Authority Act would be amended for the purpose. Officials concerned were directed to submit to the Law Department the amended draft of the act as soon as possible.
Further, Sharif directed the Lahore commissioner to prepare a pilot project on geo-tagging of all push cart vendors in the city.
Speaking at the meeting, he urged coordination among various provincial government departments and the police to ensure an effective crackdown on businesses involved in manufacture and marketing of adulterated food items including sale of dead or forbidden animals’ meat. He asked officials concerned to spare no leniency to such businesses and said strict action should be taken against them to deter them from engaging in similar activities again. He said evidence on improved standards of food items available in the market would be the only benchmark to measure the performance of the taskforces.
The chief minister praised the Punjab Food Authority on its recent action against Lahore-based restaurants that failed to uphold hygiene standards. He urged the authority to sustain the effort after Ramazan as well. He said the scope of its operations would soon be extended to other cities of the province as well. Meanwhile, he said the authority should train its staff and prepare a pool of candidates for its expanded operations.
Sharif said food testing laboratories had an important role in checking manufacture and marketing of adulterated food items. He said outsourcing of food testing laboratories should be completed as soon as possible.
Earlier, the Punjab Food Authority director general briefed the meeting about its recent activities.
Minister for Food Bilal Yasin, Advisor to Chief Minister Khawaja Salman Rafiq, MPAs Majid Zahoor, Iftikhar Ahmad, Abdul Razaq Dhilon and Muhammad Ali Khokhar were also present on the occasion.
‘Safe City Authority to introduce modern technology in policing’
Separately, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Monday that the government had set up a Safe City Authority to integrate modern technology in its efforts to maintain law and order in the province.
He was presiding over a meeting to review progress on the Safe City project. He said its successful launch in Lahore the project would be expanded to other cities.
The chief minister said protection of life and property of citizens was the responsibility of police force and no compromise on it would be acceptable.
Provincial Ministers Rana Sanaullah, Col(r) Shuja Khanzada, Lahore Transport Company Chairman Khwaja Ahmad Hassaan and the chief secretary were present at the occasion.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2015.