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September 18, 2019

De-plasticisation of metropolis


September 18, 2019

Our Establishment always liked de-politicisation for which it found the short cut of holding non-party elections. For writers and analysts, de-politicisation is threat to democratic institutionalisation. But the latest findings reveal that Islamabad the Beautiful is facing a real threat of ecological degradation including deforestation, scarcity of water and increasing level of every type of pollution.

One threat that is catching headlines these days is litter or garbage. Here also political considerations creep in and we focus only on dirty cities like Karachi and ignore the dwindling beauties.

Thanks to the conscious citizens, environmental groups and above average “civic sense” of Islooites, the city was declared a de-plasticised locality from the Independence Day. How much time it will take to succeed is any body’s guess but we all and sundry wish its success as other cities will have to replicate this model.

News is news if it is new. “New” also means unknown hitherto. Like it was a big new on BBC portal this week how the animals and birds were used for espionage and other strategic purposes in the two World Wars.

However, the news that scared me was an event of few days before the Independence Day when we celebrated Eid-i-Qurban. The cattle stock roaming around Quaid-i-Azam University thanks to illegal villages in its territory created this story. It included animals being reared in the suburbs of QAU also and we can expect such a dimension in other rural areas of the country as well.

Normally Ojheri or offal of big animals like cows and buffaloes are thrown out for being too many on Eidul Azha. On other days of the year, the offal is eaten up. It is also good for increasing the egg output of desi chicken.

This time, owners of some animals felt that some of the sacrificial stuff is getting weaker or sick. After slaughtering on August 10, some inquisitive butchers ripped the offal apart and what they found was plastic bags in varying quantities. That was a case in particular in the villages of Dhoke Tahli, Jabbi, Mohrha Shah Wali, Phulwarhi, Berkund and Narhail. A particular mention may be made of Phulwarhi where four cows had devoured 3 kg of plastic bags each and Berkund where two cows were found with 5 kg plastic each in their bodies. Despite some exaggeration, the estimation of rural folk could not be that wrong.

I had seen many cows and buffaloes with newspapers in their mouths on Murree Road and in QAU. I thought because of being in University area, they are also knowledge seekers and trying to keep abreast with the latest news by chewing the Urdu and English dailies.

Is it not an occasion for Ministries of Health as well as Agriculture to conduct research on this growing trend in the cattle? Their inspectors can check the offal at slaughter houses. The most important task has to be performed here by provincial Ministries of Environment which may hopefully lead to finally putting a complete ban (starting with instalments) on using, selling and buying plastic and other forms of non-biodegradable shoppers, packaging.

An occasion for Reclaim Green Islamabad and Margalla Hills Society to start a campaign to protect animals from plastic threat.

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