ISLAMABAD: Having spearheaded public awareness campaign regarding ban on polythene bags and its harmful environmental impacts, Minister of State Zartaj Gul Wazir on Tuesday warned citizens to shun manufacturing, selling and using polythene bags or face huge fines and confiscations.

“Experiences have shown that the use of polythene bags has already played havoc with environment, natural ecosystems and public health. We no longer afford and tolerate manufacturing, sale, import and use of the environmental nuisance anymore,” she said while talking to media after sending off polythene bags ban enforcement teams to various business centres of the capital city.

She said those who did not shun the use of polythene bags despite sufficient availability of alternative bags at affordable prices were actually foes of the people and environment.

Ms Gul said while official enforcement teams had started raiding markets in Islamabad and its adjoining areas from March 1, and imposing fines on shopkeepers and consumers for violating the law against use of polythene bags, more stringent measures would be taken in coming days against those flouting the law.

The law was framed in year 2019, banning polythene bags as a punishable crime in the federal capital territory. The enforcement teams have been reactivated and directed to visit markets and other areas and impose fines on individuals found violating the ban.

These teams comprise senior officials from the climate change ministry, Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA), Islamabad Capital Territory administration and police.

The climate change ministry in collaboration with Pak-EPA has imposed the ban on manufacture, import, sale, purchase, storage and usage under Polythene Bags Regulations since Aug 14, 2019, in Islamabad.

The implementation teams comprising representatives of the ministry, Pak-EPA, CDA and Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad had been notified on Aug 16, 2019.After the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the country early last year, enforcement of regulations slowed down and could not be implemented effectively since March 2020.

Following public awareness campaigns through print, electronic and digital media over the last one month, the ban has been revived. It is being strictly enforced across the capital city to rid it of the polythene bags.

The state minister urged citizens for their cooperation with the enforcement teams to ensure neighbourhoods and business areas were free from the social and environmental cancer of polythene bags.

“After the enforcement teams’ raids from March 1, polythene bags measuring hundreds of kilogrammes have been confiscated from shops and fines to the tune of thousands of rupees imposed in the last two days in Aabpara market and G-9 Markaz,” said Joint Secretary Syed Mujtaba Hussain of the ministry.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2021

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