RAWALPINDI, Nov 2: People living in areas administered by the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) are perplexed and furious at a levy being collected from the buyers of sacrificial animal in the name of RCB.
Agents of the contractor the RCB sold the right to establish cattle markets in Dhok Gujran, Misrial Road and Chur Harpal demand Rs200 for a goat or sheep and Rs300 for a cow from the buyer.
“It is atrocious. Why should I pay for taking out the animal I have bought and paid for?” a buyer was heard arguing angrily at Bhatta Chowk market in Dhok Gujran. Similar tounge-lashing was heard in other markets.
But the response of the contractor's tough-looking agents everywhere was same: “We have permission to charge this fee. We did not pay RCB Rs1.6 million just for nothing.”
Irrational though the fee may look, they were honest in saying that RCB contract allowed them to charge the buyers - in addition to charging the sellers rent for the cattle pens.
RCB Executive Officer Rana Manzoor Ahmed Khan confirmed to Dawn that the contract RCB awarded for Rs1.6 million gave the contractor the right to charge the buyer Rs200 per small animal and Rs300 per big animal.
When informed that no other administration in Rawalpindi had permitted such a fee, he said cantonment areas are controlled by federal government “and Punjab government's rules and regulation would not apply on this (RCB) part of the city”.
Mr Khan asserted that the federal government did not stop civic agencies to award contracts for establishing cattle markets and charging fee from the buyers. He agreed that the RCB did not levy such a fee last year but reminded that “the RCB did not establish any cattle market last year”.
Officials of the Chaklala Cantonment Board supported his stand, with a regret. “We too would impose fee on buyers but we have no open space for establishing cattle markets,” they said.
Meanwhile, residents of the Rawalpindi cantonment continue to fume over “the discriminatory levy” in their area. They resent “dual system” operating in same city, with the provincial government exempting the cattle markets of all taxes and the RCB burdening them with one.
Most of the residents Dawn talked to said they would rather buy their animal from markets in the inner city or I-11.
Unlike them, Mohammad Anwar had come to Chur Chowk market after a disappointing visit to inner city. “I managed to buy two sheep here but was in for a big surprise when I prepared to leave. A bully of a man suddenly appeared demanding Rs500 for taking them out,” he said.
“It is not even a proper cattle market. Only a few animal sellers are seen standing along the road. But the contractor’s agents pounce upon the buyer even there,” complained Ahmed Ali, a buyer at Misrial Road.