Citizens’ support crucial to make ‘plastic-free Islamabad’ initiative a success

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Zartaj asks why some of us are shying from purging our homes, neighbourhood of plastic bags
Zubair Qureshi
It is right time to act to get rid of plastic bags to make environment clean and Islamabad a plastic free city. In this noble cause, Pakistani citizens should support the efforts of the Islamabad Capital Territory administration to implement its orders to ban sale and use of plastic bags since August 14 and say ‘no to plastic bags’ when they shop.
Minister of State for Climate Change, Ms Zartaj Gul while addressing a seminar titled ‘Ban on plastic bags’ organized here on Monday by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) said the government was committed to continue unabated its anti-plastic bags drive unabated and will lift burden of plastic from society.
This will help us to be climate resilient. Islamabad is a test case and we need to work on behavior change. We need to use alternative bags made of clothes and other non-plastic material as our ancestors used to do for long.
“We should learn from urban flooding due to choking of the drainages because of the plastic bags,” said Ms Gul adding questioning why we were shying away from cleaning ourselves.
“We have conditionally allowed companies to use plastic bottles and they have been instructed to share with the government their recycling plans. She appealed to everyone that where there is no ban the people at least start changing their behavior and mindset on use of plastic,” said Gul.
She said media and civil society should help to strengthen ‘Say no plastic bags’ campaign. We love to park our cars under a tree but we do not bother to plant the trees at first place. The government in consultation with all the provinces is promoting the concept of clean and green Pakistan, the minister added.
Deputy Commission Islamabad Hamza Shafqaat said the administration has banned all kinds of plastic including plastic bottles and wrappers containing food items. The clean and green campaign is being jointly run by various ICT departments. Banning plastic bags was just an initial step towards clean and green campaign. We now have an implementation mechanism since the 14 August launch of the plastic ban campaign; those who so ever will buy or sell plastic bags will be fined heavily up to Rs.5000. We have seen a panic from some vendors who have taken stay orders from the honorable high court against this policy. But It is good that 50-60% markets in Islamabad have cooperated with the campaign realizing that plastic bags are not good to use.
Talking about the implementation plan, the Deputy Commissioner said that we have divided Islamabad in 7 zones. We will Identify places and gather evidence on sale and use of plastic bags. He said the people will be given a choice to buy bags to take care of that and re use it so that plastic bags in circulation are reduced. This has been allowed to the people so that they should not depend on cloth bags donated by the government. He said It is not a challenge that we cannot overcome. He hoped that in the next 45 days, through our aggressive awareness campaign and cooperation of the people and vendors, we will try that plastic bags are not seen in Islamabad.