Having spearheaded public awareness campaign regarding ban on polythene bags and its deleterious environmental impacts, Minister of State Zartaj Gul Wazir on Tuesday warned the public to shun manufacturing, selling and use of polythene bags or face huge fines and confiscations.
“Experiences have shown that the use of polythene bags has already played havoc with environment, natural ecosystems and public health. Thus, we no longer afford and tolerate manufacturing, sale, import and use of the environmental nuisance anymore,” the state minister remarked, while talking to media here today after sending off the polythene bags ban enforcement teams to various business centers of the capital city for monitoring the implementation of ban on polythene bags.
She stressed that those who don’t shun the use of polythene bags despite alternative bags’ availability in adequacy in the markets at affordable prices are actually foes of the people and environment.
Zartaj Gul said that while official enforcement teams have started raiding markets in Islamabad and its adjoining areas from March 1and imposing fines on shopkeepers and consumers for violating the law against use of polythene bags, more stringent measures would be taken in coming days against those flouting the law framed in year 2019 banning polythene bags as punishable crime in the federal capital territory.
The enforcement teams have been reactivated and directed to visit the markets and other areas and impose fines on those found violating the ban on polythene bags. These teams comprise senior officials from the climate change ministry, Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory administration and Islamabad Police.
The climate change ministry in collaboration with Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) has imposed ban on (manufacture, import, sale, purchase, storage and usage) of Polythene Bags Regulations from the 14th August, 2019 in Islamabad Capital Territory. Besides, implementation teams comprising the representatives of MoCC, Pak-EPA, CDA/MCI have been notified on 16th August, 2019 to enforce the ban within the limits of ICT.
But because to the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the country early last year, the enforcement of said Regulations slowed down and could not be implemented effectively since March, 2020.
Now, following the massive public awareness campaigns through print, electronic and digital media over last one month regarding the ban on polythene bags that was initiated by the climate change ministry, the ban has been revived from March 1, 2021 and being strictly enforced across the capital city to rid it from polythene bags, which accounts for significant share in overall municipal waste and environmental degradation.
Lauding the role of the official enforcement teams, which are ensuring implementation of the law in all forms and manifestations, the state minister urged the people to cooperate with these enforcement teams and ensure that our neighbourhoods and business areas are free from the social and environmental cancer of polythene bags.
Since the enforcement teams have visited the markets for ensuring all-out enforcement of the ban on polythene bags since March 1, polythene bags measuring hundreds of kilogrammes have been confiscated from shops and fines to the tune of thousands of rupees have been imposed during the polythene enforcement bags ban enforcement activities over last two days in the capital city’s bustling markets Aabpara market and G-9 Markaz, said Joint Secretary Syed Mujtaba Hussain of the ministry.
“More plans have already been hatched up for enforcement teams to strictly monitor the implementation of the ban and impose fines upon those found violating the ban in any form,” the ministry official informed the media, who is leading the implementation of the ban on polythene bags .
However, Mujtaba Hussain urged the people to play their part and avoid using the environmentally-devastating polythene bags for the sake of their own and environment health.
The senior climate change ministry official said that all stakeholders including citizens, manufacturers and sellers had being already approached at all levels to bring the use of the polythene bags to a complete halt forever.
They have been also warned that in case of violation, an individual would be fined Rs5, 000, a manufacturer Rs100, 000 and a shopkeeper Rs10, 000, the senior joint secretary said.
Lead expert on plastic pollution and chemicals at the climate change ministry, Deputy Director Dr Zaigham Abbas, who is also part of the ban enforcement team, felt sorry saying that though shopkeepers and people in markets showed being adequately aware of the negative impacts of polythene bags, they expressed different excuses behind their using of the polythene bags.
He said, “Now ban will be imposed in a more stringent way and no one would be spared of fines if caught in possession of the polythene bags,”
Explaining devastating impacts of the polythene bags on environment and public health, Dr. Abbas said that the polythene bags are non-biodegradable, they take around hundreds of years to decompose.
They lead to a lot of waste that keeps amassing over the years and remain in the land and water bodies, which contributes to soil and water pollution, Dr. Abbas added.