ISLAMABAD-The efforts by the civil administration of Islamabad against the use of plastic bags are not producing the desired results as the littering plastic is found in every nook and corner of the capital.

It is not the enforcement issue alone but more importantly it demands change of social behaviour against the use of plastic bags. In view of environment experts, bringing an end to the use of plastic bags can only be done by a collective effort. The residents should be evenly responsible with the enforcement against the use of plastic.

Hamza Shafqaat, Deputy Commissioner Islamabad told The Nation that the efforts against the use of plastic were persistently made by the authorities. In addition, he stated that as much as Rs15 lakh had been recovered by imposing fines on different shops still using plastic bags despite the ban by the authorities.

As Rawalpindi is a twin to Islamabad and the use of plastic bags is not prohibited there, therefore, according to the Shafqaat, the allowance of plastic bags in Rawalpindi was a big hurdle in eliminating the use of plastic bags from the capital.

On further discussion, the official stated that a division was formulated by the Ministry of Climate Change under the name of Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure and provide a healthy atmosphere for the residents of the capital.

He briefed that the project of eradicating the use of plastic bags from Islamabad was being carried out by the above mentioned agency and their contribution was only up to taking action against the users of plastic bags.

When approached, Environment Protection Agency Director General Ms Farzana Altaf Shah told this correspondent, “Four teams were initially formulated, each for the four zones of Islamabad. Each of the teams consisted of one assistant commissioner of the particular region, one member from CDA, one from MCI and one from the Ministry of Climate Change.”

The chairing lady explained that every day they were imposing fines up to Rs70,000 during visit to different shops and markets against the use of plastic bags.

The use of plastic bags is only left in small shops and kiosks where access is difficult, whereas, the large markets and superstores are not using plastic bags anymore, the DG said.

However, plastic is still seen openly lying on roadsides despite the imposition of ban and huge fines.

When asked about the reason, Ms Farzana replied that the littering plastic was undoubtedly seen everywhere in Islamabad and it was not only the responsibility of enforcement to clean and make its usage less but the residents were equally responsible for this.

According to her, there was an urgent need of behavioural change in our society. She added, “People are openly throwing plastic out of cars on roads.

They need to be aware of the harm they are causing to the society. The enforcement can ensure the minimum use of plastic but to maintain the clean environment, the residents must also cooperate with the administration in fighting for this environmental cause.

Last year, SRO was issued by the Ministry Of Climate Change to EPA to ensure the ban on plastic bags in Islamabad. The notification, dated on July 2019, gave regulations regarding the distribution, collection and manufacturing of plastic bags to mitigate the harm it causes.

When questioned about the implementation of the regulatory plan introduced last year by the Ministry of Climate Change to eliminate the use of plastic bags, the DG EPA said that already five manufacturing companies of plastic bags were in contact with the authorities and all other were considered illegal. She further briefed that the labelled plastic bags were also introduced and only those were allowed in shops for sale and purchase.

To get the view of shopkeepers, this correspondent visited a vegetable shop in 1-8 Islamabad.

Riaz the owner of the shop told The Nation that the cotton bags were costly and the customers prefer plastic bags as they were cheap.

He stressed that the shops had a huge amount of cotton bags in stock but the buyers hardly buy it and prefer the cheap plastic bag.