KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet on Saturday decided to impose a phase-wise ban on use of polythene and plastic bags in the province, with Sukkur being the first district where such bags would be banned within next three months.

The meeting of the cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, was held at the New Sindh Secretariat with all provincial ministers, advisers and special assistants, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Inspector General of Police Kaleem Imam and other officials in attendance.

After the meeting, CM’s Adviser on Information and Law Barrister Murtaza Wahab briefed reporters that the government had decided to implement the Sindh Environmental Protection Act under which non-degradable polythene bags could not be purchased, used, manufactured or imported.

He said that the ban would be imposed in phases within three months. In the first phase, Sukkur region had been selected and in the second phase a complete ban on non-degradable polythene bags in Karachi and Hyderabad regions and rest of Sindh would be implemented, he added.

The cabinet was told that a normal plastic bag took 400 to 1,000 years to degenerate and almost every piece of plastic ever made still existed in the environment. The amount of plastic waste had been increasing about 10 per cent each year for the past 20 years.

The enforcement of the ban on polythene bags will first begin in Sukkur; Murad bans purchase of new vehicles for cabinet members for three years

CM Shah said his government had promulgated the Sindh Environment Protection Act 2014 and its Section 14(3) stated that “no person shall import, manufacture, stockpile, trade, supply, distribute or sell any scheduled plastic product which is non-degradable”.

The cabinet discussed the issue saying an abrupt ban on plastic bags might cause loss to traders involved in the business. The CM asked Environment Minister Taimur Talpur to discuss the issue with traders.

List of prisoners sought 

The cabinet took up the issue of human rights of the terminally ill prisoners languishing in various jails of the province for their early release.

The home department had sent a list of 27 terminally ill inmates, which was forwarded to the health department for constitution of a medical board.

The board recommended 12 cases, including one of a condemned prisoner. The other one was an Indian national, thus, his case had been sent to the federal interior ministry. The third one had been released from Hyderabad in July. Four of the prisoners are under trial and their premature release cases were forwarded to the cabinet for approval.

The cabinet approved their premature release on humanitarian grounds. The chief minister also asked Prisons Minister Nasir Shah to send a list of prisoners still languishing in jails for want of surety and also provide him with a list of foreign nationals in jail.

 Armoured vehicles allowed for top officials 

Discussing the use of luxury vehicles, the cabinet approved a proposal to authorise the governor, the chief minister, speaker, chief justice of the Sindh High Court, chief secretary, IGP, two additional IGs use of armoured vehicles.

Any provincial ministers or officers identified to have a threat would be provided an armoured vehicle available in the pool.

The chief minister was told that there were 28 vehicles of 1,800cc available in the pool for ministers. Most of the vehicles have already been allotted to ministers.

The CM asked the chief secretary to notify a ban on the purchase of new vehicles for ministers, advisers and special assistants for next three years. The new ministers would use vehicle available in the government pool. 

Body formed to review draft rules for Sindh police 

The cabinet also approved three bills for their introduction in the assembly for legislation.

They were the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Institute of Trauma (SMBBIT) Karachi, the Sindh Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, and Sindh Institute of Child Health And Neonatology, (SICHN) Karachi.

The cabinet was informed in Sindh there was no such institute to treat victims of accidents and injuries, thus, the trauma centre was established in Karachi. “The centre is successfully providing services and is an autonomous institution. The trauma centre, which has been named as SMBBIT, would establish its satellites across Sindh and serve as a teaching institute.”

The cabinet was informed that the SICHN, Karachi would also establish its satellite centres as had been established by the NICVD and serve as a teaching hospital and offer diplomas in various related sectors.

The cabinet also discussed the draft Sindh Police (Posting, Transfer & Tenure) Rules 2017 and constituted a committee comprising Barrister Wahab, Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh and IGP Imam to review the document and give their recommendations before it was sent to the assembly for approval.

The recruitment rules of IG prisons and DIG prisons were also discussed. It was informed the caretaker government had amended Rule 890 for which it had no mandate. The cabinet restored the original Rule 890 with slight amendment. It reads: “The Inspector general of prisons shall be appointed by promotion from amongst the deputy inspectors general of prisons.”

 Food dept wants Rs7.6bn subsidy to retire debt 

The food department requested the cabinet to fix the price of wheat. The cabinet was told during 2018, the food department procured 1.4 million metric ton (mmt) of wheat at the support price of Rs3,250 per bag.

It requested the cabinet to approve the issue price of wheat at Rs3,150 (packed in PP bag) and Rs3,250 (packed in jute bag) and a subsidy of Rs7.656 billion might also be approved to retire the commercial banks’ borrowing.

The chief minister constituted a committee to meet with traders and others and give its recommendation for fixation of price.

The cabinet, on the recommendation of the selection committee, appointed Iqbal Nafees Khan as the managing director of Sindh Civil Servants Housing Foundation (SCSHF) for two years.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2018