Sindh to go plastic-free

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  • Govt approves provincewide gradual ban on production, use of polythene bags
  • CM bans purchase of official vehicles for three years
  • Forms committee over police reforms, wheat pricing

KARACHI: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government took a historic and an environment-friendly decision on Saturday as it imposed a provincewide ban on the production and usage of polythene and plastic bags in gradual phases.

The cabinet under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah decided this in a meeting at the New Secretariat convened with austerity measures, police reforms, wheat prices among other in its agenda. All the provincial ministers, advisors and other higher officials attended the meeting.

BAN ON PLASTIC:

The government has decided to ban all plastic bags, which were made effective across the province within three months, starting from district Sukkur in its first phase.

The cabinet was told that normal plastic bag takes 400 to 1000 years to degrade and it is a worrisome fact that almost every piece of plastic ever made still exists in the environment. The amount of plastic waste has been increasing about 10 per cent each year for the past 20 years, it was revealed.

CM Murad said that his government has promulgated Sindh Environment Protection Act (SEPA) 2014 and its Section 14(3) reads as “no person shall import, manufacture, stockpile, trade, supply, distribute or sell any scheduled plastic product which is non-degradable”. “The scheduled plastic products must be oxo-biodegradable and the pro-degradant used must be approved by the agency.”

An official of the environment department informed the cabinet during a meeting that the manufacture and use of polythene bags is a crime.  On this, the cabinet approved the environment department’s request to impose a provincewide ban.

NO NEW OFFICIAL VEHICLES:

Following the federal government’s footsteps, the Sindh government has also launched an austerity drive, starting with a ban on the purchase of official vehicles. It has also approved a ban on the purchase of new vehicles for official use, the spokesperson added.

According to the spokesperson, the ban will be in place for three years.

Addressing a meeting of the Sindh cabinet, the provincial chief minister said, “I want to draft a new policy regarding use of official vehicles and a grade 17 officer should be given a car that is bought on a lease.”

“Government officials should pay installments for the vehicles themselves,” Shah said, adding that the vehicles will be handed over to the officials when the installments are completely paid off.

However, the governor, chief minister, the interior minister, speaker, the chief justice of the Sindh High Court, chief secretary, inspector general (IG) of the police and the two additional IGs will be provided with bulletproof cars.

RELEASE OF PRISONERS:

Further, the cabinet approved the release of aged prisoners after a new list is put together every three months. The cabinet also approved the release of aged prisoners with perilous diseases.

The prisons medical committee will submit details of the aged prisoners to the cabinet; an eye will be kept on those prisoners released under the district administration, the spokesperson added.

Also, the cabinet took up the issue of human rights of terminally ill prisoners lying in different jails of the province for their premature release.  On government’s instructions, the home department had sent a list of 27 prisoners terminally ill which as forwarded to the health department for the constitution of a medical board.

The board recommended 12 cases, including the one who is condemned prisoner and the other being an Indian national, whose cases were referred to the Ministry of Interior.

It was learnt that the one has already been released from Hyderabad in July 2018. The four prisoners are under trial and their pre-mature release cases were forwarded to the cabinet for approval.

The cabinet approved their pre-mature release on humanitarian grounds. The chief minister also directed Minister for Jail Nasir Shah to send the list of the prisoners who were still languishing in jails for want of surety and also provide him with a list of foreign nationals lying in the jail. “I want to take necessary action on humanitarian grounds,” he said.

Murad Ali Shah also directed that details regarding prisoners abroad be also provided to him. Moreover, the spokesperson said, the Sindh government will release prisoners after the payment of bail.

POLICE:

The cabinet also approved the formation of a committee under the legal advisor Murtaza Wahab along with Imtiaz Sheikh, Shabbir Bajjar, IG police and interior secretary to observe over the police’s performance.

It discussed the draft of Sindh Police (posting, Transfer & Tenure) Rules 2017 and constituted a committee comprising Barrister Murtaza Wahab, Minister Energy Imtiaz Shaikh and Police IG to review the draft give their recommendations so that it could be sent to the assembly.

WHEAT PRICE:

The Food Department presented an item and requested the cabinet to fix issue price of wheat of crop 2018. The cabinet was told that during 2018, the food department procured 1.4 million Metric Tons (MMT) of wheat at the support price of Rs3,250 per bag.

The department requested the cabinet to approve issue price of wheat at Rs3,150 (packed in PP bag) and Rs3,250 (packed in Jute bag) and subsidy of Rs7.656 billion may also be approved in order to retire the commercial banks borrowing.

The chief minister constituted a committee under Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah to meet with the traders and the department people and give his recommendation for fixation of the issue price. “My view is very simple that I do not want to exert extra burden of subsidy on the exchequer,” he said.

Also, the cabinet on the recommendation of the selection committee appointed Iqbal Nafees Khan as Managing Director Sindh Civil Servants Housing Foundation (SCSHF) for a period of two years.