LHC issues notice on petition challenging polypropylene bags use

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LAHORE – Lahore High Court (LHC) Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed on Tuesday issued a notice to the Punjab Food Department on a petition challenging procurement of polypropylene bags for storing wheat.
Barrister Syed Ali Zafar filed the petition submitting that procurement and use of polypropylene bags was not only harmful for human health and environment but also against the Punjab Procurement Rules 2009. He said that when wheat, which is a living organism, is stored in these bags specially in sunlight, polypropylene mixes with wheat and causes fatal diseases such as cancer.
The petitioner argued that there were no standards and specifications prescribed by the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) for use of polypropylene bags for storing wheat and the Punjab government had not obtained any approval to use these bags from the authority. Zafar said that even if there were any standards specified by the PSQCA, there were no testing facilities in Pakistan for testing compliance of these standards.
The petitioner said that there were no disposal facilities for polypropylene bags in Pakistan owing to which these bags were an environmental disaster and clog agriculture soil, rivers and sewerage. He pointed out that there must be an environmental impact study by the Punjab government before procuring these bags, which was never carried out by the food department.
The petitioner said that the Punjab Procurement Rules 2009 had been violated, as under these rules the Punjab government was required to specify specifications and testing procedures to confirm safety of polypropylene bags supplied to be used for storage of wheat. Zafar submitted that obtaining polypropylene bags without meeting the aforesaid requirements reflects corruption of the food department and requested the court to restrain the government from using the said bags for storage of wheat.
The judge, after hearing the counsel’s arguments, issued a notice to the Punjab Food Department seeking its stance on the matter and directed the department that any action taken in respect of polypropylene bags would be subject to the court decision. Afterwards, the court adjourned the petition’s hearing until February 28.