ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee on Wednesday directed the Ministry of Climate Change to seal all factories manufacturing plastic bags and to provide a list of shops and factories which were penalised for violating environmental laws.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Climate Change and Environmental Coordination met at Parliament House.

The meeting chaired by MNA Nuzhat Pathan also directed Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Director General Farzana Altaf Shah to ensure strict action against shop owners using polythene bags in the federal territory.

The committee expressed indignation at the rampant use of polythene bags in the federal capital despite a ban – imposed in Aug 2019 – and demanded an effective media campaign for the implementation of the ban on plastic bags.

NA panel seeks closure of factories making plastic bags, list of violators

In an update on a probe into an attack on the EPA chief at Savour Foods in Islamabad, the NA committee was informed that the DIG had extended full cooperation to the ministry and assured the resolution of issues faced by officials in enforcing and implementing laws to protect the climate.

The panel expressed displeasure over the absence of the CDA chairman and the secretary for the Ministry of Law from the meeting. The chairperson directed both officers must ensure their attendance at the next meeting along with relevant officers to discuss pressing issues causing environmental degradation.

The committee also expressed concerns over the “poor sewerage system” installed at different restaurants situated on the Margalla Hills, including Monal.

They maintained that these eateries were causing severe damage to the ecology of the hills. They also decided to convene a separate meeting exclusively on the issue.

Speaking about these restaurants, Shaista Pervaiz said such cafes were built all over the world and shutting them down was not a solution, especially in light of massive unemployment in the country amid the economic crunch.

However, PML-N leader Romina Khurshid Alam said if the authorities concerned did not want to shut down Monal then they should impose a heavy fine on the restaurant for violating environmental laws.

The Islamabad Wildlife Management Board officials briefed the NA panel that Monal’s lease had expired.

The committee also took notice of the non-cooperation within different government departments dealing with the issues of climate change and directed that a complete procedure be developed to ensure strong inter-departmental coordination to tackle climate-related issues.

The standing committee was also informed that some 111 illegal housing societies had been established in the federal capital without fulfilling legal formalities.

The committee also took stock of briefings on the Real Estate and Regulatory Authority (RERA) Act, and details of housing societies in Islamabad damaging the environment.

The lawmaker also questioned CDA officials about their role in the housing projects launched in the ICT territory. “How do you authorise housing societies and keep an eye on the changing climate? How are the slum dwellers destroying Islamabad?”

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2023

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