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Punjab’s help sought to check food adulteration in capital

Punjab’s help sought to check food adulteration in capital

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Tuesday decided to hire the services of the Punjab food department officials to launch a campaign against food adulteration in the capital city.

It also said action would be taken against bureaucrats for allegedly facilitating encroachments on state lands.

Presiding over a meeting in the ministry, which was also open to the media, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said a decisive action would be launched against food adulterators.

Officials of the Punjab food department, including Director General Dr Sajid Chohan and Director Ayesha Mumtaz, also attended the meeting. According to the interior minister, the services of the officials had been hired for two days to prepare a strategy for the local administration to launch the campaign.

“About one-and-a-half years ago I asked the then chief commissioner and the deputy commissioner Islamabad to take action against food adulterators, the sale of substandard food items and poor hygienic conditions in restaurants, but they failed to deliver.”

He said when the officials were asked to come up with the details about the action taken by them, they could give a briefing of not more than five minutes.

The minister said one person can make a difference and the officials of the Punjab food department had the courage to take action against such illegal practices.

Chief Commissioner Islamabad Zulfiqar Haider told the meeting that action was being taken against adulteration and unhygienic conditions in food outlets.

But later Deputy Commissioner Mushtaq Ahmed informed the meeting that under the current law no aggressive action can be taken against food adulteration and the sale of substandard food items.

“Those involved in the practice can be fined only Rs300 to Rs1,000 under the Pure Food Ordinance 1960. There is even no law to seize such food items,” the DC added.

“However, the capital administration imposed a fine of Rs2 million to Rs3 million and also took action against those involved in such practices,” the DC said.

In reply to a question, the DC said the action was taken under different sections of the Pakistan Penal Code such as section 269 which deals with a negligent act likely to spread dangerous infections.

Dr Chohan said the issue would be addressed on a short-term and long-term basis. He said action against such offences was taken under the Pure Food Ordinance in 35 districts of Punjab. He offered his department’s services to prepare a strategy and train the officials of the capital administration to take action under the ordinance which was also applicable in the capital. Besides, he suggested adopting the Punjab Food Authority Ordinance 2015 to address the issue on a long-term basis.

In response, the minister directed the officials concerned to come up with proposals to adopt the Food Authority Ordinance 2015 in the federal capital. Besides, he also asked for proposals to amend the existing food law.

When the chief commissioner said the capital also had no slaughterhouse, the minister said it would be discussed later. The minister was informed that a helpline had been set up in the capital on which complaints were received against food adulteration.

Later, the officials said seven teams would be constituted under the supervision of assistant commissioners and comprising representatives of the health, food and livestock departments to check food adulteration in the city.

The minister also asked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to conduct an inquiry against officials of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) who allegedly facilitated land grabbing and encroachments.

He said action should be taken against those found guilty without any discrimination no matter the responsible officers were in the country or abroad. He said the ministry would send a reference to the FIA and the inquiry should be started within two days.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2015

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