RAWALPINDI, Oct 21: It is one big city but the two civic bodies administering Rawalpindi often confound the citizens with their divergent styles of governance.
This Eidul Azha, the citizens living in the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) areas will have harder luck in buying sacrificial animals than their cousins in the areas administered by the city district government (CDGR) because the former has imposed a levy on cattle sellers and the latter none.
While Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has waived such a levy on the animals brought for sale on the occasion, losing the CDGR millions, the RCB has contracted out three cattle markets in its jurisdiction to a private firm for Rs2 million.
Every cow brought there for sale will be charged Rs300 and every goat Rs200. Water supply and sanitation facilities will be provided there by the private firm which won the contract.
RCB executive officer Rana Manzoor Ahmed Khan explained to Dawn that the RCB is governed by the federal laws, not the provincial laws.
“We will not charge the levy if the federal ministry of defence directs us so,” he said.
Meanwhile, the anomaly is turning the cattle traders away from the markets set up by RCB at Siham near Peshawar Road, Dhoke Hafiz and Gujran.
“I am taking my animals to Adiala Road market (of CDGR). I cannot afford to pay Rs4,000 for my 20 lambs,” said Ahmed Khan, a trader from Peshawar, outside the Siam market.
Cattle arriving into Rawalpindi on Sunday were seen heading for the no-levy nine markets of the CDGR located at Renial, KRL Road, Adiala Road, Girja Road, Rehmanabad, Service Road and Chani Sher Aalam.
But the sight was painful for the officials of the cash-strapped CDGR, all the more because it had orders to provide veterinary, sanitation and other services free to the cattle traders.
“The Rawal and Potohar town committees could have earned Rs6 or Rs7 million in fees from the cattle owners but have been burdened with the expense of providing free services,” a Tehsil Municipal Administration official moaned.
“A uniform law should apply to all (bodies) on such occasions,” he said, envying “the good luck” of the RCB and the Capital Development Authority of neighbouring Islamabad.
But District Coordination Officer Saqib Zafar had no complaints.
“It is a policy matter. The provincial government stopped the municipal departments from contracting out the cattle markets for money,” he told Dawn, adding that no-fee entry and veterinary services at the CDGR markets would lower the price of animals there.
That may be a hope but the CDGR markets saw more potential buyers than the ones set by the RCB.
One cattle trader Nisar Ahmed found the Siam market of RCB uneven on ground and the water source far away. “I could not attend even to
the few buyers who turned up here as I spent time fetching water from a nearby locality,” he said.
Another, Mohammad Badar, from Sargodha, was angry that he was charged entry fee but no shelter was provided for the arriving animals.
“It is cold at night,” he noted.
But the cattle traders were not happy with the CDGR markets at Adiala Road and Rehmatabad either. “After sunset, the market goes completely dark. No arrangements have been made for lightening the place,” said trader Farooq Hasan.
Maybe the poor facilities were the local administration’s resentment for working for free.