LAHORE - The Environment Protection Department (EPD) Punjab has started mega crackdown against manufactures, sellers and users of the black polythene bags (plastic bags) that are below 15-micron thickness. Law prohibits black polythene bags or any thin polythene bags, which is below 15 microns in thickness, as it its use is injurious to health and being thin it is too hard for recycling or dumping. The polythene bags being non-biodegradable remain in the environment for centuries, damaging human atmosphere badly. Official sources revealed the legal action will be taken against general public (users) and shopkeepers also if they are caught using the prohibited black polythene bags in any shape or style in bazaars or at any public place across Punjab. Polythene bags are real foes of a civilised world and once produced they survive for thousands of years and harbour infectious germs only for spreading fatal diseases. Sources said EPD Secretary Sajjad Saleem Hotiana has issued strict directives to 36 District Officers (Dos) Environment working across Punjab to start legal action against the manufactures, sellers and users of the black polythene bags below and send the challans of the violators to the District Magistrates (environment). As per law, the district magistrates can impose Rs50,000 fine and 3 months imprisonment to the users or sellers and makers of the polythene bags and the DOs can take help of police to nab the violators of the ban imposed by the government. EPD Director General Dr Shagufta Shah Jehan talking to The Nation Friday said all district officers (environment) have been directed to take steps against the violators and register FIRs against violators and send their challans to the district magistrates. Dr Shagufta said thin polythene bags of either colour stop waterways sewerage line and get scattered in the air having the capacity to fly due to low thinness. She said Punjab government and EPD have decided in principal not to spare any one who violates the environment law titled Punjab Prohibition of Manufacture, Sale, Use and Import of Polythene Bags (Polythene Bag Below Fifteen Micron Thickness) Ordinance 2002. She said the DOs have been directed to submit reports about the progress of the crackdown within 15 days, giving details of the number of challans submitted to the 36 district magistrates. Sources said Punjab government is raising prices of polythene bags to discourage the prevalent culture of giving free polythene bags to customers in markets at the time of shopping. The thickness of polythene bags will be raised up to 30 micron, which will shoot up its prices and the shopkeepers will stop distributing it free of cost to customers who come for shopping. Repeated recycling of polythene bag reduces the quality of the plastic and these black or other coloured plastic bags become highly toxic. Any make food or other eatables turn toxic when used people carry food from restaurants and shopping centres alls in such plastics bags. Law says no person shall manufacture, sell, use or import black polythene bags or any polythene bag below fifteen micron thickness or offer any kind of eatable and non-eatable goods in any black polythene bag or any polythene bag below fifteen micron thickness. It is unfortunate that no let-up has been noticed till now in the trend or culture of using thin polythene bags by customers or shopkeepers despite the legislation against it.