The Punjab government’s Ramzan Sasta Bazaars have dashed the citizens’ hopes of getting essential commodities for Iftar and Sehr at subsidised rates, a survey of the local markets has revealed.
Though the officials responsible for the establishment of the Sasta Bazaars have managed to arrange tarpaulin shade for the convenience of the shopkeepers and customers, yet most of the essential items are completely missing in these Bazaars which disappoint the visitors.
A visit to a few Bazaars, including the one at Khayaban-e-Sir Syed in Sector II near Awan Market, exposed the administration’s claims of sale of cheaper items. There were no sale points for essential Ramzan items like gram flour (besan), grains, pulses and vegetable ghee and oil.
Though there are several fruit stalls but their quality is inferior to those being sold outside the Bazaars. The administration is bound to keep the fruit prices lower than the market but they are not paying attention to the quality of the stuff being offered to the customers. Resultantly, the sale of fruits at the Bazaars is nominal and only the people who cannot buy fruits at higher prices buy them.
A few vegetable items are being sold, including potatoes and onions. These are of better quality similar to those available in the market but there is no major difference in their prices. For example, the price of onions at the Sasta Bazaars is Rs 24 per kilogrammes while its price is Rs 25 per kg in the market.
The customers at the Sasta Bazaar said that they were disappointed to see that there are no sale points for besan (gram flour) and the poor quality of fruits. They said that the bazaars were set up on the direction of Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and a massive subsidy was announced by him to facilitate the people but there are no items on which the subsidy is given by the government like flour, besan, grams and other pulses.
Liaquat Jadoon, a young doctor who came to the bazaar with many expectations, said that he did not buy anything because the required items were either not available or their quality was poor. He pointed out that the bazaar is almost giving a deserted look while a multitude of people is buying fruits for Iftar in the market. This speaks a lot about its utility, he said.
He said that the district administration must place senior officers in the bazaar who can ensure the availability of all essential items instead of leaving the management of the bazaars at the disposal of clerical staff.