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LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar issued on Thursday a strict warning to milk producing companies to stop misleading the innocent people and clearly mention on their products what they actually are.

Heading a two-judge bench at the Lahore registry, the chief justice said that he himself was unaware of the difference between “tea-whitener” and milk. He said the court did not want to damage business of any company but would not let them deceive the nation anymore.

“I’ve stopped using powder-milk on the advice of a Hakeem (herbalist),” the chief justice shared his experience with Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Saeed, Director General of Punjab Food Authority Noorul Amin Mengal and a number of lawyers present in his court.

The bench is hearing an appeal by Barrister Zafarullah Khan of the Watan Party against the sale of substandard milk.

Mr Mengal told the bench that milk-safety teams had been formed to check samples of raw and packaged milk on a regular basis. He said the government had banned steroid injections used on cattle to to boost milk production and also cancelled licenses of the manufacturers of injections. He said the companies had obtained stay orders from the courts.

CJP Nisar said it was very alarming situation that use of steroid in milk and chicken production was impacting the human health. Complaints of hormone imbalance were now common among young girls in particular, he added.

The chief justice directed lawyers of the power and pasteurized milk manufacturing companies to make their clients write on the products in bold-text that it was not milk. He also directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to strictly monitor advertisement of these companies.

Mr Mengal added that provision of pure milk was not possible unless sale of raw milk was stopped. He said legislation had been made for pasteurization of milk and banning the sale of raw milk.

The chief justice also expressed concern over the sale of substandard and used cooking oil in the market and its consumption at famous food chains. Reiterating his determination to protect the rights of the citizens, Justice Nisar observed, “We would not let our children consume this poison.”

The bench issued notices to seven tea-whitener and milk manufacturing companies, including Shakarganj Foods, Haleeb and Dalda Foods. It also issued notices to two steroid manufacturing companies - ICI Pharmaceutical and Ghazi Brothers - for next hearing.

POTABLE WATER CASE: Hearing suo motu case against contaminated water and substandard bottled water, Justice Nisar observed that the government should have reduced one coach of the Orange Line Metro Train in Lahore to save money for the establishment of an incineration plant to destroy hospitals’ wastes.

He observed, “The state is not fulfilling its responsibility as both water and air are polluted.” He said the Punjab government would have to change its priorities.

Water and Sanitation Agency Managing Director Dr Javed Iqbal told the court that there were 575 tube wells in Lahore city for the supply of water. The chief justice ordered him to present an analysis report after taking water samples from all the tube wells in city.

A report submitted by PFA director general Mengal stated that sample analysis had been conducted of 412 bottled water companies so far out of a total of 1,148 registered companies in the province. It said 145 companies had been sealed for selling substandard bottled water.

Justice Nisar said people had been falling prey to hepatitis after consuming contaminated water and costly treatment of this disease was another woe for the poor.

The chief justice directed the PFA to take samples of the water being supplied to his chamber and the Lahore High Court Bar Association as well in addition to 100 samples from different points of the city.

Earlier, the chief secretary told the bench that water filtration plants had been installed in Lahore and other cities to provide clean drinking water to the citizens.

He said after the launch of development programmes citizens had stopped consuming canal water in ruler areas of the province.

The chief justice directed the chief secretary to furnish a detailed report about budget of Punjab Saaf Pani Company. He observed that the court would not hold political leadership wholly responsible for the wrongs but the bureaucracy. The bench would resume hearing on Dec 30.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2017