ISLAMABAD: After the prime minister recently approved the formation of a food authority in the capital, the administration has proposed rules for the authority to the Ministry of Interior, the chief commissioner told Dawn on Tuesday.

Chief Commissioner Amer Ali Ahmed said Prime Minister Imran Khan approved the establishment of an Islamabad food authority on Nov 29.

“After the prime minister’s approval, we also moved proposed rules to the Ministry of Interior for the authority,” he said, adding that once the authority has been established the administration will ensure safe and hygienic food for residents.

“Currently, in the absence of the authority, we face several issues with inspections and subsequent action against those found [involved in] adulteration as we have to follow Punjab’s laws to conduct milk inspections etc,” he said.

Another Islamabad Capital Territory official said it was unfortunate that the capital did not have an authority to ensure hygienic food for its more than two million residents.

The matter of establishing such an authority has lingered for around a decade, with many bills in this regard being presented in parliamentary committees. The issue has remained unsettled because no practical steps have been taken to set up such an authority.

In its absence, the Islamabad food department carries out inspections under the Pure Food Ordinance 1960, which proposes nominal fines for violations.

Two bills aiming to set up a food authority in the capital are currently in the Senate and National Assembly and have been approved by the relevant standing committees.

Speaking about the bill approved by the Senate Standing Committee on Interior on Dec 9, Mr Ahmed said that with approval from the committee and the prime minister “no we are hopeful that within three months the authority will start functioning.”

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2019