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October 11, 2019

‘No immediate ban on polythene bags’


October 11, 2019

LAHORE:The Punjab government Thursday assured the Lahore High Court that it would not impose an immediate ban on the manufacturing, sale and use of polythene bags as the same would be done in phases after having comprehensive deliberations with all stakeholders.

Chief Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar told a full bench that the government had been seriously pondering upon the effects of abrupt ban enforced by other provinces. He said the government was fully mindful of the problems the people who are attached to the industry could face in case of a sudden ban.

Additional Attorney General Ishtiaq A Khan and Advocate General of Punjab Ahmad Jamal Sukhera were also there to assist the bench headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi. Justice Ch Masood Jahangir and Justice Jawad Hassan are other member of the bench.

The chief secretary presented a draft of a law for the appraisal of the judges and said polythene bags of minimum thickness of 50 macrons would be allowed only. He said the manufacturing of the bags below the minimum standard would be banned after six months of enactment of the law, sale after 12 months and import after 18 month.

After a brief perusal of the draft, the bench pointed out some technical flaws in it and directed the chief secretary to remove them before forwarding it to the authority. The bench directed the government to make some experts part of the consultation process with the stakeholders. The chief secretary told the bench that the government decided to recruit inspectors for the enforcement of the law once passed and to run media campaign for the awareness of the public. The bench observed that the government should broaden scope of the legislation to regulate other plastic products.

The bench disposed of the petitions and allowed lead counsel Abuzar Salman Niazi to approach the court if the government failed to promulgate the new law within four weeks. In the petition, the counsel had contended that plastic products caused harmful effects on human health and environment by the use of polythene bags & styrofoam products (plastic straws, cups, spoons, plates, food trays and other related disposable material). He said polythene bags and styrofoam products were single use plastics which took thousands of years to decompose and they had been causing havoc in various areas of Punjab and were damaging the sewerage system of cities, spreading epidemics, polluting soil, causing water pollution and endangering aquatic life. He argued that the use of 15 microns thickness was an environmental disaster, even in third world countries minimum thickness allowed was 50 microns (which was relatively less hazardous for environment).

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