Wednesday June 12, 2024

‘Sasta’ bazaars giving more relief to undeserving than deserving ones

By Ahmad Hassan
June 13, 2017


A visit to a Ramazan Bazaar on 15th fasting day outside Nawaz Sharif Park on Sunday along Benazir Bhutto Road gave an impression that the undeserving (affluent) people are benefiting more than the deserving ones in the first place for its location far away from the poorer populations.

The bazaar is very well managed as magisterial staff municipal and agriculture marketing officials remain around to watch quality and prices. It was noted that the quality of few essential items like fruits and vegetables were not of good standard and only a few items could be termed slightly better.

Duty Magistrate Ahmed Hassan Raja admitted while talking to ‘The News’ that the size of the tented bazaar was smaller in size due to the limited space as car parking area was also to be provided as a result of which the stalls were over crowded making shopping difficult.

This bazaar does not provide a substantial margin in prices as compared to local retail market at the outlet which would attract many deserving people to visit this bazaar as poor populations cannot afford bigger amount of grocery or vegetables at a time. Beef and mutton which is far more consumed by the fasting public is provided only till 12 noon making it meaningless as the commodity is ordinarily purchased in the afternoons.

This tented semi air conditioned bazaar is supposed to cater to the essential items of use in ‘iftar’ and ‘sehri’ for population across the main artery of Rawalpindi. Items available include grocery, meat, vegetables, fruits and wheat flour etc. on cheaper than local market rates. Despite that the wheat flour at the RB is far cheaper than the local market only few people are able to take advantage of the facility due to lack of own conveyance. With the result cheaper wheat flour is picked more by marketers and the buyers with their own cars than the real deserving people. 

 A Ramazan package of over Rs9 billion had been devised to provide relief to people during the holy month, and out of it Rs8.78bn are set aside to be spent on the provision of subsidised flour - bringing the price of 10kg bag down to Rs250 and 20kg bag to Rs500.

The main purpose of such bazaars is and should be to provide relief in shape of substantial margin in prices of essentials to the poorer sections of the society but these bazaars seem to cater to the needs of all and sundry but its real benefit goes to  those who can afford their own means of travel to this bazaar located at a distance of no less than two kilometres and up to ten kilometres at a stretch meaning that those with no transport of their own cannot enjoy the luxury of getting essential items of use in ‘iftars’ and ‘sehris’ because hiring a rickshaw or taxi to reach and return from the bazaar leave no margin for the less privileged people.

The administration should have taken care of the fact that the poor and deserving should benefit from such facility and bazaars should have been more in number than 318 in whole of Punjab and where it was not possible cheaper and emergency arrangements of commuting should have been made for the deserving people mostly living in the less privileged classes.