Plastic bags litter Islamabad despite ban | Pakistan Today

Plastic bags litter Islamabad despite ban

–Environmental agency says not enough resources to enforce the ban

ISLAMABAD: In spite of a ban on the use of plastic bags in the federal capital, residents of Islamabad continue to flout the ban while the administration continues with its deep slumber.

In August 2019, Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul had announced a blanket ban on the use of plastic/polythene bags in the capital to curb pollution. Subsequently, warnings were issued and fines were imposed on the manufacturers, consumers, and sellers of polythene bags.

However, despite all the fines and warnings, the use of plastic bags continued unabated.

Shopkeepers operating in rural areas the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) like Shakriyal, Tarameri, Alipur Farsah, Pak PWD Colony, Ghori Town are especially flouting the ban as the admin looks the other way.

An employee of a polythene factory told Pakistan Today that shutting down factories was not a wise decision by the government.

“We honor and appreciate the government initiative to eliminate this environmental hazard, but does the incumbent government realize how much unemployment would this policy cause. This policy is totally a ‘misplaced’ priority and the government should focus on issues like inflation, unemployment. The government lacks vision and its policy decisions rely on whims and catchy slogans,” said an owner of a plastic bags manufacturing factory.

He said the government should have taken the stakeholders on board before banning the plastic bags and added that the manufacturers needed time to evolve their business strategies accordingly. “We are trying to switch to paper bags, but it would take some time,” he said.

A shopkeeper using shopping bags held the public responsible for discouraging this trend.

“Although I was the only one in the market who switched to the paper bags, but the customers kept demanding plastic bags,” he claimed.

Talking to Pakistan Today, a senior official in the Pakistan Environmental Control Protection Agency said, “Lack of human resource, lack of budget, non-cooperation of the public, security threats from the manufacturers, sellers, shopkeepers, are the issues that hamper the enforcement of the ban.” He also said the agency was facing a severe shortage of funds.

As an attached department of the Ministry for Climate Change, the agency is doing its best to eliminate the menace and have collected Rs 1.5m in fines for violations. Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqat chose not to answer on the issue.