GUJRAT: Some senior administrative officers having field assignments in the province have suggested to the Punjab government to reconsider setting up the customary Ramzan bazaars in the month of fasting beginning in the last week of April given the engagement of state machinery in controlling Covid-19 pandemic and the relief work.

Official sources said some divisional and district administrations in the province had proposed to the provincial government to divert the funds usually allocated for the establishment of Ramzan bazaars and the provision of subsidised food items to people, towards the planned financial assistance of the families affected by the lockdown situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

These proposal was floated by some divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners during a video conference which was also attended by provincial minister Aslam Iqbal on Tuesday (April 6), the sources said. The meeting was held to review the preparations for the holy month of Ramzan and provision of subsidised food items to the masses through Ramzan bazaars across the province.

They said many senior administrative officers posted at divisional and district levels were in favour of the proposal as they were already overburdened because of handling the situation in the wake of coronavirus in the province.

They said the officers as well as the whole government machinery in the field had already been heavily engaged in tracking, tracing and testing of the suspected cases of the virus, enforcing section 144 to ensure lockdown and making arrangements for the provision of healthcare facilities to the people.

More over, the sources said, the administration would also be supervising the government’s wheat procurement drive to be initiated in a few days that too involved hectic activities.

They said the officers were of the view that holding Ramzan bazaars would also compromise the government’s efforts aimed at ensuring social distancing and sanitary conditions required to avoid spread of Covid-19. The sources said any decision on the proposal was awaited.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2020