Despite LHC orders, polythene bags’ sale continues unabated


Despite the verdict by Lahore High Court against the use of polythene bags, the consumption and usage of the bags has remained unchecked in the provincial capital, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Polythene bags are very popular because they are cheap, strong and carrying goods in them is easier. However, these bags are also responsible for causing pollution, destroying wildlife and blocking sewers and drains.
Polythene bags can be found from vegetable stalls to designer stores. Once they become garbage, plastic bags find their way into our drains, parks, and streets. If they are burned, they release toxic fumes which are a serious environmental hazard. These bags are non-biodegradable, which means that they remain in the same condition even after they are trashed.
The Punjab government prohibited the manufacture, sale, use and import of polythene bags in 2002. Violators of the law were subject to a fine of Rs 50,000 and/or a prison term of up to three months.
In 2008, the Lahore High Court ordered the Punjab government to ban the use of plastic bags in the province. The decision was made in response to a petition claiming that the bags continued to cause environmental degradation because they could neither be destroyed nor recycled.
The federal government had already banned the bags in 1997 but the provincial government had failed to implement the ban. The 2008 decision required the province to finally enforce the ban. According to WASA Managing Director Mian Abdullah, “Plastic bags are a big problem, especially during the rains. Burning plastic bags are common in our city. People are illiterate and they have no idea what damage they are causing to the environment.” He further said that people fill plastic bags with garbage, tie them up and throw them in open drains and the blockage occurs, adding that people do not realise that these bags o not decompose and may cause serious diseases.