ISLAMABAD   -   Minister for Climate Change, Zartaj Gul on Thursday informed the National Assembly that the government is currently working on a plan to prohibit single use plastic bags in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) by August 14.

Replying to a question of Naureen Farooq Ibrahim in the National Assembly, the minister said that an SRO under the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997 is being drafted to give legal cover to the proposed action. She said that the ministry has also taken steps to discourage excessive use of plastic in the government departments including ban imposed on one time use polythene bags and PET bottles in the Ministry of Climate Change.  She said that the ministry has distributed cotton bags amongst parliamentarians, media personnel and officials of Ministry of Climate Change as an alternative to plastic bags. She added 5,000 cotton bags have been procured for distribution amongst the employees of the federal government.

She added several such bags are being procured for distribution in Juma and ltwaar bazars and various markets free of cost while an awareness campaign on the hazards of single use plastics is being launched.

She said that Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) had conducted a detailed survey of Industrial Estate of Islamabad situated in sectors I-9, I-10 and Kahuta Triangle to identify and categorize the number and types of industries.  She added a total of 185 industrial units were identified in I-9, I-10 and Kahuta Triangle.

She said that major source of air pollution are steel furnaces in Islamabad Capital Territory which are being regularly monitored by Pak-EPA through installation of cameras and online dust monitoring system. Scrubbers have also been installed for absorption of carbon from emissions.

Zartaj Gul said that there are 12 steel units which were causing pollution in Sector I-9/ I-10, despite strict monitoring and legal action. Supreme Court of Pakistan, in its order has directed cessation of operations of all steel mills till such time the online dust monitoring system is installed on the stacks.

Presently, all the steel furnaces situated in ICT have installed pollution abatement technology and Pak-EPA regularly monitors these steel units for ensuring the compliance of the National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS). These units are being monitored Pak-EPA through CCTV cameras installed inside and on the rooftops of the steel units, she added.

She said that Pak-EPA is also arranging lectures, seminars and workshops regarding the use and introduction of green technologies in the Industrial sector to abate air pollution within the country with Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ICCI).

She said that Pak-EPA, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ICCI) and all associations of industries are working together for the first model green industrial zone of Pakistan and all necessary steps are being taken under the green and clean initiative of Prime Minister of Pakistan.