IT goes without saying that the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to enforce a ban on the manufacturing, sale and use of polythene bags in Punjab. Despite Lahore High Court orders, the environmentally hazardous plastic bags are still being used by vendors, shopping centres, departmental stores, pharmacies and bakeries to sell their respective commodities.
Whenever the shopkeepers are reminded by some customer about the ban, they make sure not to give commodities to such a customer in a plastic bag. They do not shun its usage altogether. Some shopkeepers claim that customers do not bring cloth bags with them, and, hence, they are compelled to give commodities in plastic bags.
Biodegradable woven bags, which are the best alternative of polythene bags, are expensive for the shopkeepers and that is why they are unable and unwilling to bear the extra cost. The price of plastic bags is Rs320 per kilogramme, while the price of biodegradable woven bags is Rs800 per kg. Consequently, shopkeepers continue to use the plastic bags even though they pose a threat to the environment and can damage the sewerage system, spread diseases and cause soil and water pollution.
The use of polythene bags can only be shunned if the Punjab government addresses the concerns of the shopkeepers and reduces the prices of biodegradable bags. Also, it is high time for the EPA, Punjab, to act upon the LHC directives and enforce a strict ban on the manufacturing, sale and usage of polythene bags.
VOLUNTARY VACCINATION: The government decision to ‘force’ people to get vaccinated against the deadly coronavirus has the potential to add credence to the so-called conspiracy theories and the consequent vaccine hesitancy. The government would do well to simultaneously launch awareness programmes to motivate people to get vaccinated voluntarily. There is a need to start a nationwide campaign through media advertisements in this regard.
BAN ON S.P.S.C.: There has been a ban on the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC) for some time. While the judicial bench that imposed the ban must have had its reasons, competent aspirants who had earned their seats purely on merit have also been affected by the ban. The relevant authorities should consider lifting the ban and ensure an SPSC with due transparency and meritocracy.
Abdul Razaque Chachar
CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS: Even before the current lockdown, educational institutions had been closed due to the fourth Covid wave. There have been constant violation of SOPs at all public places, but only the educational institutions are considered Covid hotspots which is strange. What we need is education with strict observance of the SOPs. As soon as the lockdown is lifted in Sindh, educational institutions should be the first to be allowed to get functional.
Mohammad Ali Panhwar
TUITION CENTRES: The lockdown in Sindh means the closure of tuition centres in Karachi even though it is the time of the year when various entry tests are conducted across the country. The quota system already works against the people of Karachi, and the closure of tuition centres will aggravate the misery of the students in terms of proper preparations. The government should allow tuition centres to function while following the SOPs right after the current lockdown is lifted.
Taimoor Ali Khanzada
Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2021