Govt tells LHC about legislation on polythene bags, opposes abrupt ban

Updated June 19, 2019

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“A sudden ban on polythene bags could lead to industrial, economic crisis,” says Chief Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar. — DawnNewsTV/File
“A sudden ban on polythene bags could lead to industrial, economic crisis,” says Chief Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar. — DawnNewsTV/File

LAHORE: The Punjab government has told the Lahore High Court (LHC) that legislation is in the pipeline to control manufacturing, import and use of polythene bags; however, it opposed the sudden ban on such bags.

“A sudden ban on the polythene bags could lead to industrial and economic crisis,” said Chief Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar on Tuesday before a three-judge bench hearing public interest petitions challenging the manufacturing, sale and use of polythene bags. Advocate Abuzar Salman Niazi and others had moved the petitions.

The chief secretary stated that the government should be allowed adequate time for the legislation and to take all stakeholders in confidence before putting a blanket ban on the manufacturing/sale and use of the polythene bags.

The bench, headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, agreed with the chief secretary and observed that an abrupt ban on the polythene bags would cause difficulties for the government.

However, the bench asked the chief secretary about remedial measures the government could take if a stay order was not issued.

Mr Khokhar sought time to come up with a remedial plan after having a consultation with the stakeholders.

A law officer stated that the matter was a top priority for the government as Prime Minister Imran Khan had a passion to make the country clean and green. He sought a four-week time from the court to present a plan, which was granted.

The petitioners contended that the use of plastic bags had been banned all over the world and the LHC, in another case, had already ordered the government to enact legislation on the use and manufacturing of plastic bags.

They said the previous directions had not been implemented by the government and the rampant use of the polythene bags had been creating adverse effects for environment, endangering life of the citizens. They argued that the using plastic bags with 15 microns thickness was environmental disaster as even in third world countries minimum thickness allowed for the bags was 50 microns.

The petitioners asked the court to issue directions to the government to enact a new law, completely banning manufacturing, use, sale, storage, import and marketing of polythene bags and styrofoam products, in particular single-use plastics.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2019