A huge quantity of the environmentally-damaging polythene bags has been confiscated during raids on various food outlets, shops and marts in theF-6 sector of Islamabad, according to a press release issued here on Friday from the Ministry of Climate Change.
Spelling out details about the raid, Senior Joint Secretary at the Ministry Syed Mujtaba Hussain, said that a fine of Rs 40,000 was imposed on various shops, selling their products and edible food items in polythene bags in the crowded Markaz area of the said locality. The raid was conducted jointly by a team comprising officials of the Climate Change Ministry, Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA), Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration and the area police confiscated polythene bags measuring several kilograms, the Ministry official said while talking to media during the raid.
The Senior Joint Secretary said that a plan has been formulated, under which the anti-polythene bag law enforcement teams are being sent time to time in rural and urban localities of the federal capital the city to monitor, raid and fine shops, vendors, manufacturers, sellers and consumers involved in use, sale and manufacturing of polythene bags. “While efforts have been beefed up for stricter enforcement of ban on use, sale and manufacturing of polythene bags in the capital city and surrounding areas, no one is being spared and fined when found violating the ban,” he told media, adding that the ban enforcement teams were now regularly visiting market places, stores, malls, other public places and manufacturing sites in the capital for stern action and monitoring of implementation of the ban on polythene bags.
The senior Ministry official Syed Mujtaba Hussain told the media that not only customers but also shopkeepers, sellers and manufacturers of the environmentally-damaging polythene bags are being fined during the raids and warned to halt use, sale and manufacturing of polythene bags at all levels or face punitive action in a more stringent way if caught again in possession of the banned polythene bags. Lauding the role of the enforcement teams and particularly strong support from the office of the Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Mr. Hamza Shafqaat, the official added that without their untiring efforts and interest, enforcement of the ban could not have been possible. Meanwhile, he urged the business community and general public to support the government’s efforts to rid the capital city of polythene bags for the sake of environmental protection and public health.
Deputy Director of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency Sadia Munawar said that under the ongoing campaign against the use of polythene bags, wholesalers are being fined up to Rs.100, 000, shopkeepers Rs.10, 000 and consumers up to Rs. 5,000 for first-time violations. The fine increases with repeated violations, she added. She underlined the unprecedented importance of the role of the general public in getting cities and towns free from polythene bags.
The Pak-EPA official Sadia Munawar said, “Unless people show responsibility and commitment towards environment protection, all efforts aimed at tackling the menace of polythene bags, major cause of environmental degradation, will be in vain. Deputy Director (Chemical) at the Climate Change Ministry Dr. Zaigham Abbas, said widespread use of polythene bags had aggravated the issue which is one of the main causes of poor public health. “As polythene bags are non-biodegradable, they take years to decompose,” he highlighted.
Dr. Zaigham Abbas maintained that these bags contribute to a lot of waste, which keeps collecting over the years. Plastic takes thousands of years to break down and decompose.
It remains in the land which contributes to the rising problem of land pollution, he added. It also leads to water pollution. When people throw away the bags carelessly on roads, in drains and rivers, they enter the water bodies. They are carried away by winds and sometimes dumped into water deliberately. Plastic also endangers the aquatic life, he explained further. Assistant Commissioner (Shalimar), Abdullah Khan, while talking to media highlighted that the ICT administration was committed to the Climate Change Ministry and Pak-EPA’s efforts for making Islamabad free from polythene bags and would continue to support such endeavours that lead towards the benefit of public health and the environment.