Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul
Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul on Thursday informed the National Assembly that the government was currently working on a plan to prohibit single-use plastic bags in Islamabad by Aug 14.

In reply to a question asked by Naureen Farooq Ibrahim, the minister told the house that an SRO under the Pakistan Environment Protection Act 1997 was being drafted to give legal cover to the proposed action.

She said the ministry had also taken steps to discourage excessive use of plastic in the government departments.

She said the ministry had distributed cotton bags among parliamentarians, media persons and officials of the Ministry of Climate Change as an alternative to plastic bags. She said 5,000 cotton bags had been procured for distribution among the employees of the federal government.

She said several such bags were being procured for distribution in Friday and Sunday bazaars and markets free of cost. An awareness campaign on the hazards of single-use plastic bags is also being launched.

She said the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-Epa) had conducted a survey of Industrial Estate of Islamabad in I-9, I-10 and Kahuta Triangle to identify and categorise the number and types of industries. She said a total of 185 industrial units were identified in I-9, I-10 and Kahuta Triangle.

The major source of air pollution is steel furnaces in the Islamabad capital territory which are being regularly monitored by Pak-Epa through installation of cameras and online dust monitoring system. Scrubbers have also been installed for absorption of carbon from emissions.

Ms Gul said there were 12 steel units which were causing pollution in I-9/ I-10.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has directed cessation of operations of all steel mills till such time the online dust monitoring system is installed on the stacks.

At present, all steel furnaces situated in the capital have installed pollution abatement technology and Pak-Epa regularly monitors these units for ensuring compliance with the National Environment Quality Standards (NEQS).

These units are being monitored by Pak-Epa through CCTV cameras installed inside and on the rooftops of the steel units, she added.

She said Pak-Epa was also arranging lectures, seminars and workshops regarding the use and introduction of green technologies in the industrial sector. She said Pak-Epa, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) and associations of industries were working for the first model green industrial zone of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2019