ISLAMABAD (APP) - Unending queues, deafening noise and unruly crowds are becoming a routine at subsidised sugar outlets, clearly manifesting the consumer craze for a commodity. Most often, they scuffle with one another or outlets staffers, going crazy for nothing and keeping aside all ethics. The situation sometimes forces the police to baton charge or scatter them. Standing besides such outlets, any saner person is used to think why that unruly craze for a commodity? Why we as a nation always rush after a commodity - already short in quantity and getting more expensive? Of course, we are still far behind of the developed nations where consumers act economically and sagaciously. But, here the consumers craze not only results in artificial shortages but also help make the producers earn more profits. Simply taking the sugar. The sugar consumption witnesses an alarming hike each year during the holy month of Ramazan due to its excessive use in drinks, sweets, vermicelli, 'kheer and other kind of desserts. Over the years, the government has been grappling to meet the rising demand and ensure availability of commodity in the market on reasonable prices and has been importing the commodity to cater the domestic need. Pakistans sugar consumption for fiscal 2009-10 has been forecast to touch an astounding 4.35 million metric tons (MMT) against the estimated consumption of 4.2 MMT during last fiscal. Total per capita refined sugar consumption is estimated at 25 kilograms, based on improved domestic supply and strong demand, according to USDA Pakistan Annual Sugar Report. Pakistans sugar production during 2009-10 is forecast at 3.65 million metric tons (MMT) and up around three percent from 2008-09 estimates of 3.56 MMT. Now, as the countrys requirement is 4.35 MMT, it has to import 0.73 MMT in addition to domestic production. Therefore, the availability of sugar in the market is not a question. But, the common practices of black-marketing, hoarding, keeping stocks, excessive consumption, poor administration and weak monitoring system. These social evils always resulted in crises - either sugar or any other. Availability of sugar and controlling its price has always been a challenge for the government. But, specially in the month of Ramazan when people consume more sugar, said a food expert. Though, he mentioned to unwise conduct of the consumers and traders to create artificial shortages. Now, controlling price hike and shortage is collective duty of all stakeholders. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure sugar availability on control rate vis-a-vis, the consumers and traders to follow prudent buying and selling practices.Many people, who need two kg sugar for 15 days, come every day and remain in queues to get more sugar on control rate. This additional sugar, they sell in open market at higher prices, claimed a salesman at subsidised sugar outlet at Commercial Market. This practice results in heavy rush and many deserving people go back home empty-handed, he added. In such situation, Utility Stores Corporation plays an important role through certain measures. This time, we have devised a mechanism to provide only two kg sugar per person. Let us hope, we may discourage this menace, said Chen Zeb, Manager, Aabpara USC store. In prevailing situation, it seems apparently that market prices go uncontrolled. Repeated efforts and warnings of the government went unheeded and the sugar prices remained high in open market. The shopkeepers are reluctant to reduce prices for their own reasons. Their argument is otherwise valid that why they should sell a commodity on lesser price after purchasing it on higher price. I am selling sugar at Rs 56 per kg as I have purchased it at the rate of Rs 52 per kg. It is not possible for me to sell the same commodity at Rs 47 per kg, said M Tanveer, a shopkeeper at Commercial Market. When informed about the governments decision, Atif Habib, a shopkeeper at Saidpur Road, said that if the government implemented the new prices mechanism and forced the wholesale traders to provide sugar on fixed prices, the commodity would be available in the market on reduced prices. However, many attribute the price hike to increasing demand of the commodity. Demand for sugar goes up alarmingly during Ramazan and some times even shopkeepers face shortage of supplies, remarked a wholesale dealer at Raja Bazaar. Most often swayed by the consumers craze, we as a nation forget the harmful effects of the crazy pursuits. Sugar is also not an exception. Its excessive use pose serious health hazards and causes a host of ailments. Enumerating as many as 146 reasons to warn why sugar is ruining human health, the health experts have described it as sweet poison. Besides creating other problems, the excessive use of sugar causes high blood pressure and bodys homeostasis, said Dr Zahid Hussain of Ayesha Clinic Rawalpindi. Another expert, Dr Mian Iftikhar said, excessive use of sugar suppress immune system, upset mineral relationships in body and could also cause hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty in concentrating and crankiness in children. Sugar could produce a significant rise in triglycerides and it contributes to the reduction in defence against bacterial infection, he stated. Let us no more be crazy for a thing, too harmful for our health, but be prudent in our behavior and help authorities to overcome this engineered crisis.