ISLAMABAD    -   Islamabad Capital Territory Administration has banned the usage of newspapers as packing material to maintain the sanctity of any written religious scriptures and revered names.

The ban has been imposed for a period of two months, according to a notification issued by Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat here. “It has been brought to my knowledge that rough papers including newspapers having holy words/verses imprinted on them are being used by the traders for wrapping up various commodities and are also being used for different ways for preserving the commodities, “said the notification.

In my opinion, there are sufficient grounds for imposing Section 144 to prohibit usage of rough papers including newspapers for wrapping packaging and preserving the commodities in any form, it added.

While contacted, the Deputy Commissioner said that the step had been taken while keeping in view the sanctity of certain words and religious phrases or revered names; as once used, the paper is usually thrown in garbage, which is tantamount to disrespecting the scripture.

Meanwhile health experts, religious scholars have lauded the ICTA decision, while ‘tandoor’ owners, and people associated to that business were not looking satisfied on that step.

The practice is the most common with newspapers being used by thousands of roadside vendors to serve food, ‘dhabas’ selling chapattis, ‘nan’, ‘samosay’ and ‘pakoray’, without knowing its repercussions, Sabir Hussain a local buyer at a refreshment stall said.

“I know, it is something wrong but after banning plastic bags in the city, vendors have no other option but to use paper for wrapping the material,” he added.

Moeen Khan, a ragman while expressing his concern said, “My sales, which are mostly newspapers, will be affected and the cost at which I sell the papers to restaurants or roadside sellers will also go down.”

Sardar Faheem, the owner of a ‘tandoor’, said that they buy newspapers to wrap up ‘roti’ in it due to cost effectiveness, while other paper available in the market is not cheaper.

Dr Irfan, a private practitioner, said that people ate food wrapped in those papers without knowing its harmful effects.

“Harmful chemicals like lead, cadmium besides inedible colours, pigments, binders, additives, preservatives and graphite are absorbed by the food that is later consumed by people.”

“Such high lead levels in children can affect their IQ level, growth and development. All other waste is excreted out from the body, but graphite keeps accumulating and can be hazardous for lungs and kidneys in the longer run,” he warned. Renowned Scholar, Maulana Abdul Razaq also endorsed the step of city government, saying that it was a very good initiative and ragman should also be imparted education in that regard.