KARACHI - The Environment and Alternative Energy, Department of Sindh government is facing difficulty to control the manufacturing, sale and use of polythene plastic bags due to lack of uniform law to curb this menace in the country. Minister for Environment and Alternative Energy, Department of Sindh government, Askari Taqvi, informed this during the question-answer session of first sitting of the new parliamentary year of Sindh Assembly on Thursday. Responding to the supplementary questions of the members, he said the lack of uniformity in the law and policies in different provinces was the main hurdle to control the sale of these polythene bags as in Punjab, the plastic bags of less than 15 microns thickness were banned while in Sindh the shopping bags of 30 microns are still being sold. Taqvi said the plastic bags were a major cause of pollution as most obvious impact was the choking of sewerage drains and pipes, thus disturbing the entire sewerage conveyance system while the bags were non-degradable compound and hence these plastic bags would continue to exist forever. Further, the burning of these plastic bags produces toxic gases, which affect the quality of air. The government of Sindh has already enacted a law namely the Sindh Prohibition on Manufacture, Sale and Use of Polythene bags Act, 2006, which prohibits the manufacturing, sale and use of bags. A number of campaigns have been launched by the Environmental Protection Agency, Sindh and the City District Government Karachi to curb this menace of plastic bags, but due to large scale use of bags by all the sections of the population and the absence of suitable alternates, the success of the campaign has been nominal. He informed that the National Assembly had passed a resolution last year to ban the use of plastic shopping bags and proposed the use of bio-degradable shopping bags. Minister pointed out that the Federal Ministry of Environment was drafting a law, which would allow production of plastic bags through bio-degradable material only. He said that his department has already sent suggestions to provincial Law Department to control the manufacturing, sale and use of the polythene plastic bags. To another question, he said the Environment and Alternate Energy Department on its part has initiated fresh efforts to control the environmental pollution at Nooriabad Industrial Area. Minister said it was a fact that the discharge/spill of gases from various ships at Karachi Sea Port causes severe damage to marine life. Any discharge of oil, lubricants or gases from ships can cause damage to marine life depending upon the quantum and the site of discharge. The control of discharge from ships within the port area is the responsibility of the Karachi Port Trust and the Port Qasim Authority and they would have to act in accordance with an international convention. The Marine Pollution Control Department of Karachi Port Trust inspects all ships calling on Karachi Port to check pollution prevention measures. He informed that KPT has set up a Marine Pollution Control Centre for oil spill response, debris collection and laboratory for water quality monitoring along with trained technical staff to perform relevant activities while similar arrangements are being brought in place by the Port Qasim Authority. In case of accidental discharge like oil spills, the Environmental Protection Agency Sindh acts as a focal point and facilities co-ordination at the provincial government level as a number of stakeholders are involved. Answering to a question asked by the Heer Ismail Sooho of MQM, Taqvi said the industrial effluent from the six industrial estates were released at various points in the Malir and Lyari Rivers Karachi, whereas from the Port Qasim Industrial zones, the industrial effluent is released in the Creek area. He further said Sugar Mills, Cement Factories and other industries producing a lot of pollution as Environment Department has already sent notices to these industries to control their industrial effluent through constructing treatment plants.