BAN ON POLYTHENE BAGS

My Editorial in the Month of Early May, 2019 for Balochistan Times

Pakistan falls among one of those countries where use of polythene bags is abundant and perhaps with no restriction from the government. Polythene bags have a high environmental cost for the human population and they fall under the category of non-biodegradable waste—waste that doesn’t decompose easily as other substances do. Perhaps it takes a century to the polythene bags to degenerate whereas the production is so prolific that no shopping trip of any individual is complete, be it minor or major, without a polythene bag.

Of late, the District Administrator Quetta Mr. Farooq Langov, in a welcome move, has taken a step to ban the use of polythene bags in the city. This was, in fact, a much needed decision as the unscrupulous use of Polythene bags in the Quetta city has almost turned the city into a heap of garbage. The sewerage lines, fields, roads, bazaar and anywhere one can observe the polythene bags litter the city once known for its proverbial beauty. On the other hand, the trade unions in the city have turned down the ban as many stakes are involved in it.

In fact, the Quetta Metropolitan should hold workshops, seminars and walks in collaboration with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Balochistan, Environmental Sciences’ Departments of the three big Universities of the city and engage students, journalists, teachers and civil society to sensitise the masses regarding the hazards of material that cannot be broken down by the natural process once produced and increase environmental risks for a city like Quetta that already has many other unfortunate sources of toxification of its air, ground and surface water. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by UN after the expiry of Millennium Development Goals in 2015, call for sustainable development which means development should take place not at the cost of coming generations lives.

Although there is some activity by the Quetta Metropolitan Corporation (QMC) on the front of waste management yet complete disposing off of the waste that is produced in the city is still far away. There may be human resource, finance, equipment and capacity issues to deal with the waste that is produced in the city and according to some estimates as many as 1500 tonnes of waste is daily generated in the city with far lesser capacity of the authorities concerned to lift and dispose off that waste. As a consequence, the garbage that is left, mostly polythene bags, is burned in place which in itself is a process that carries many health hazards for the humans, leading to lungs ailments and allergies.

If we think for a while, the unplanned development, unwise use of resources, and unstoppable littering of the environment that the current generation is up to, what else shall be remained for the coming generations –a world with unsafe water, unsafe air, infertile ground, and impure food? In fact, the religion and religious scholars can be taken on board to be the part of campaign as religion of Islam doesn’t allow the wasteful use of natural resources and also misbalancing of the nature through human activity.

Therefore, the QMC should adopt a multi-pronged strategy to deal with the polythene dilemma of the city in collaboration with the environmental experts so that a will is generated in the masses for saying no to polythene bags by themselves and not by coercion.

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