Drive against plastic bags won’t stop, vows minister
ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul on Wednesday said the government would carry on its drive against plastic bags without succumbing to any pressure.
“Nobody is above the law. The government has written a letter to all stakeholders for strict implementation of the ban on polythene bags,” she said at a news conference.
The state minister’s statement came in the wake of the staff of food chain outlet in Islamabad’s Blue Area roughing up a team of officers, who were out implementing the ban a day earlier.
Gul said the team, which comprised officers of the climate change ministry and Environmental Protection Agency, was not pursuing any personal agenda but simply following directives.
“The anti-plastic bags drive, which kicked off in the federal capital, has been appreciated across the country,” she maintained.
“The Punjab government will implement the ban after the provincial cabinet’s approval while Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has already implemented it.”
The state minister also thanked Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal for expressing their interest in banning plastic bags in their provinces.
“Five million bags are used every year in Pakistan. They don’t decompose and this is a major reason for the choking of the drainage system,” Gul explained.
The minister warned of dire consequences in case anyone challenged the government’s writ by refusing to abide by the ban.
However, she said the government would facilitate shopkeepers in implementing the move.
Speaking on other topics, Gul announced that Prime Minister Imran Khan had endorsed the proposal of launching a dedicated channel with the help of the Information ministry to keep the masses informed about weather forecasts and early flood warning.
“The ministries of climate change, information and water, the irrigation and Met departments and the National Disaster Management Authority will inform the public about any upcoming calamity,” she added.
Gul said the prime minster had also approved the provision of solar stoves to the people living in the country’s northern areas so that they would not have to cut down trees for fire.
Responding to a question, the minister said it was a national responsibility to keep the environment clean.
“We have the example of Karachi where 34 people died during rains because the drainage system was choked,” she noted.
She suggested cotton and jute bags as alternatives to plastic bags.
Replying to another query, the minister said her ministry, with the assistance of Unesco, was drafting a bill to stop the builders’ mafia from cutting mountains for housing societies.