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Khattak orders ban on plastic bags

August 04, 2015

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has ordered a ban on the manufacturing and use of polythene shopping bags in the province, feeling such bags cause choking of sanitation system and environmental degradation.

However, the ban will come into effect after two months.

In the meantime, all stock of plastic bags will be removed from markets and factories, read an official statement issued here on Monday.

According to the statement, the chief minister ordered the ban while speaking to a delegation here.

However, restriction will take effect after two months

Information minister Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani told Dawn that extensive awareness campaign would be launched throughout the province to check the use of plastic bags.

“During the awareness campaign, the people will be sensitised to rather warned about the relevant law and punishment under that. The campaign will be launched through media and other means accessible to the public everywhere in the province,” he said.

When asked about the alternative of plastic bags, the minister said the people would be asked to use paper bags.

“Actually paper bags are environment-friendly as they vanish after six months,” he said.

Ghani said during the campaign, shopkeepers would be asked to avoid purchase of plastic bags and ensure early disposal of the available stock of plastic bags.

“Ideally, polythene bags should not be used as they are hazardous to environment,” said an environmentalist.

He, however, said it was not possible to abruptly ban the use of plastic bags.

The environmentalist suggested that a culture of not using plastic bags should be promoted in the province.

“Such culture should be initiated in areas where the people avoid using plastic bags. It should gradually be extended to other areas,” he said.

He said people in many countries had long been using bags made of cloths and papers.

The provincial local government and rural development department had taken such an initiative around one and a half year ago but it didn’t work.

The department had begun the anti-plastic bag campaign in Peshawar’s University Town area, where shopkeepers were asked to avoid use of plastic bags.

It had also organised a walk to create public awareness against plastic bags at the University of Peshawar with the help of students.

However, the poor interest of the government and transfer of some relevant officials led to the failure of the campaign.

A legal expert as well as a government officer concerned said there existed no law in the province under which the use of plastic bags could be banned.

They, however, said there was a federal law banning the use of black plastic bags.

According to them, the provincial government is required to have proper legislation if it wants to eliminate plastic bags in real sense.

An expert on the local government said to eliminate plastic bags, the provincial government would have to issue a notification declaring plastic bag an ‘offensive article’ and its manufacturers, marketing and use a ‘dangerous offensive trade.’

He said the local governments, especially district governments, could make bylaws under Section 113 of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act, 2013 to prevent the use of plastic bags in their respective areas.

Also in the statement, the chief minister said he was fully aware of all the problems facing Peshawar.

While directing the municipal administration to get the state land in Wazir Bagh and Khushal Bazaar free from illegal occupants, he warned any effort to grab the state land would not be tolerated.

The chief minister said service roads would be established on both sides of the ring road.

He directed the municipal administration to manage the Gymkhana Cricket Ground through the local cricket association instead of leasing it out and ensure provision of missing facilities at the ground.

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2015

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