ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that the adulterators of the foodstuff did not deserve any leniency as they had been amassing money at the cost of public health and by inflicting harms on the lives of consumers.

He directed continuation of strict action against such elements and observed that provision of relief to the common man was among the top priorities of the government.

He made the observations while chairing a high-level meeting to review prices of daily use commodities, including flour, rice, ghee, sugar, pulses and vegetables etc.

He also stressed upon the need for taking further effective steps to bring down the prices of daily use commodities through an effective strategy. He observed that in the past, need to take comprehensive steps along with framing of a mechanism to keep check on adulteration and difference between the demand and supply, had been neglected, but the present government had been paying due attention to those issues.

Expressing his deep concern over the ratio of adulteration in the daily use commodities, he termed it an inhuman cruelty, which was also a cause of increase in fatal diseases.

Such aspects had been altogether ignored the past, he added. The Prime Minister emphasised upon the use of modern technology to discourage the practice and also directed for ending the issue of hoarding as well.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Secretary Dr Kazim apprised the meeting that the provincial government had been continuing the drive against adulteration under a sustained strategy ensuring collaboration among all the departments concerned. He said that so far about 20,000 inspections were made under which 3,500 notices had been issued, besides imposition of about Rs 7 million as fine.  About 200,000 kilograms / liters goods were destroyed and 400 spots were sealed.

The overall stability was witnessed among the prices of different commodities, and due to certain steps, the price of Basmati rice witnessed a reduction of Rs 16 per kg, of local tomato Rs 55 per kg and of Daal Mash Rs 2 per kg, he added. 

For the purpose, the Chief Secretary said an advertisement campaign was launched for the public awareness while special classes had been started in the educational institutes.

The KP Chief Secretary further said that utilisation of modern technology and geo-tagging were also being made, whereas special attention was paid on the standard of those items.

The Prime Minister was further apprised that 73 Kissan markets had been established in 28 districts of the province where the farmers sold their produce directly.

Punjab Chief Secretary Major (Retd) Azam Suleman apprised that a Committee had been constituted under the direction of Prime Minister to take stock of the demand and supply and for making of certain estimates.

He said that the Punjab Food Authority had inspected 29,500 places. From the previous month’s figures, reduction in the prices of tomato, onion and potato was witnessed whereas stability in the prices of flour, rice, edible oil, pulses and sugar was observed.

He linked the hike in prices of chicken with the weather conditions and increase in its demand. The Chief Secretary, giving further figures, said that tomato price was reduced by Rs 40 per kg, potato Rs 12, and those of flour and rice reduced by Rs 2 to 3.

He said “Qeemat” application had been launched in Rawalpindi to control price hike and so far 600,000 residents had downloaded it. The resolution of complaints through that application had been achieved by 99 per cent.

With that facility, any complaint could be redressed within two hours, he added.

Suleman said that for provision of daily-use commodities at the doorsteps of residents, an online home delivery system had been formally launched in Rawalpindi.

A total of 32 model bazaars had been set up in 19 districts of Punjab province whereas places for establishment of such bazaars had been identified in 95 tehsils. The food and vegetable grading system, he apprised, had commenced in Lahore and Faisalabad which would be gradually expanded to the whole province.

He further said that through the Radio Frequency Identification (RID System), CCTVs and price magistrates, continuous monitoring of the fruits and vegetables markets was being made.

The Chief Secretary said that complete record of the edible commodities was maintained and so far 82 Kissan markets had been established.

The Sindh Chief Secretary and Balochistan Secretary Industries also apprised the meeting about the steps taken to control adulteration in the foodstuff and presented comparative figures of the prices of the daily use items in the rural and urban areas. 

The Prime Minister said that he would review the measures through video conference every week.

He said that interaction with the provincial governments regarding their experiences over public related issues was conducive, hinting that the practice would continue regularly.