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Peshawar’s main abattoir in awful condition

Peshawar’s main abattoir in awful condition

PESHAWAR: As the administration has launched drive against eateries in Peshawar for violating established standard of hygiene and quality of foodstuff, it is blind to the awful conditions at meat and vegetable supply centres controlled by the district government itself.

Take the example of the main abattoir on Landaki Road from where tons of meat is supplied to around three million population of Peshawar on a daily basis. Conditions are really disgusting at the slaughterhouse, where around 300 cattle, mostly buffaloes, are slaughtered every day.

The staff wearing no protective gear and barefoot children walking around in the blood and waste of the slaughtered animals is a common sight. The slaughtered and living animals in proximity – a vivid example of animal cruelty if one for a second cares that these standing buffaloes have feelings too - is a nauseating sight.

Only shed has been constructed under which animals are tied and slaughtered. No check-up or examination is done to determine whether the animal’s meat is fit for human consumption or not, while no facilities are there to avoid contamination of meat. This open-air facility surrounded by residential quarters has become potential source of air and land pollution in the vicinity.

The slaughtered meat is transported to retailers through horse-drawn carts, auto-rickshaws or pickups without proper cover. Notwithstanding the district government charges Rs80 per cattle, but did not upgrade the facility. The administration has provided only water for washing the floor and ceiling fans.

Another slaughterhouse on the Ring Road is in the same condition. Several private slaughterhouses at different localities in the city are also in pathetic condition. Condition of the government controlled vegetable and fruit markets are also in bad shape. Rotten products are sold openly.

The government generates huge revenue through auctioning these facilities. Laws have been framed, food inspectors have been appointed, but these laws are not applied to check quality and standard of edible commodities.

The district administration launched drive in Ramazan to ensure provision of health food in restaurants. The campaign is still going on. Several restaurants, including global fast food chains, were raided and their managements were fined for having rotten foodstuff, expired items and not maintaining standard of hygiene in kitchens. Shopping arcades were also raided and expired items were recovered.

The ongoing drive proves eyewash. Some fast food outlets, which were fined for not maintaining standard of cleanliness at their kitchens and selling substandard food, have continued their business in the same manner. A fast food outlet in Saddar Bazaar, which was fined Rs100,000 for keeping kitchen dirty, is running his business in the same messy utensils and environment.

“The administration was demanding Rs200,000 fine and finally, we paid Rs100,000,” said manager of the outlet.

“The government should have to educate us about hygiene standard before taking action.”

Managements of some restaurants term the drive unwarranted and allege that the district authorities are trying to create hype through media instead of addressing the issue.

Tahir Mahmood Khan, spokesman for Hashoo Group, alleged that raid on the city’s five-star hotel was unjustified because the assistant commissioner had no authority to conduct such action.

“Standard procedure is that the official along with experts from food and health departments is supposed to inspect kitchen and other section of the hotel. The relevant AC came to the hotel without experts, which is wrong because has no expertise to determine quality of food and hygiene,” he said.

The spokesman said the hotel came under the jurisdiction of tourism corporation and cantonment board and that the hotel’s management paid Rs300,000 to the government.

AC Osama Warraich told Dawn that the raiding team had recovered a pack of expired milk from the kitchen of the five-star hotel.

He said managements of other restaurants and shopping arcades were also fined for selling expired products and rotten foodstuffs and having unhygienic kitchens.

The AC said the government would take more serious action against owners if they failed follow the prescribed rules.

“The administration gave them first warning and will take action again and again,” he said, adding that the fine had been imposed under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pure Food (Amendment) Ordinance, 1983.

Under the said law, for a first offence, there is a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and with fine which shall not be less than Rs50,000; for a second offence, rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and with fine which shall not be less than Rs70,000, and for any subsequent offence, rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which shall not be less than Rs100,000.

Important aspect is that the district administration has started drives without legal backing or cover.

Official sources said the home and tribal affairs department through a notification on June 29, 2015 had given magistracy powers to eight ACs to use powers to check prices in Peshawar only.

“They (ACs) have not been authorised to raid eateries for checking quality of foodstuffs,” said an official.

The notification said: “In supervision of all earlier notifications in this behalf and in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 14-A of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898 (Act V of 1898) the provincial government is pleased to confer powers of the special magistrate 1st class on the following officers along with their territorial jurisdiction shown in the column against each exclusively for trial of offences relating to price control under any provincial or federal law for the time being in force, including the powers to raid and conduct summary trials of offences, in the assigned jurisdiction, in addition to their duties.”

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2015

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