Moot asks provincial govts. to phase out harmful plastic products

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Moot asks provincial govts. to phase out harmful plastic products

It is high time the provincial governments came up with a firm timeline to phase out plastic products generating highly harmful waste that causes serious damage to the environment, especially to the marine ecology near the Pakistani coastline.

Speakers of a seminar, titled ‘Impact of plastic pollution on our life’, demanded that a deadline should be given by the governments to producers of plastic products to compulsorily use biodegradable plastic to prevent further spread of plastic waste.

The National Forum for Environment & Health (NFEH) organised the moot to mark World Environment Day in view of this year’s theme of the day, i.e. “Beat plastic pollution”. Speakers of the moot demanded that the law should be strictly implemented to penalise whosoever was responsible for spreading plastic waste, including manufacturers, traders, retailers, consumers and municipal agencies, which otherwise were responsible to safely dispose of such trash.

Saquib Ejaz Hussain, a concerned environmental consultant who also conducted the moot, said plastic waste was accounted for up to 65 per cent municipal and industrial garbage being generated in the country. He said that according to certain estimates, up to 13 million tonnes of plastic waste was dumped into the sea every year in Pakistan.

He said that disposable products should be manufactured using biodegradable plastic in order to curb air and marine pollution when major cities like Karachi didn’t have proper landfill sites for running an efficient waste management system. He lamented that instead of properly being disposed of, plastic waste mixed with other municipal garbage was willfully being dumped at Karachi’s shoreline to reclaim land under sea to build housing schemes.

Commodore (retired) Syed Zafar Iqbal, director of LNG Project of Bahria Foundation, said it was a highly remorseful fact that the country’s shoreline was being treated as a huge garbage dump. He said that 13 to 14 drain lines of the city were constantly discharging untreated sewerage and industrial effluent directly into sea causing massive harm to marine environment and life of the area.

He said a third world country like Ghana never allowed such untreated discharge of sewerage and effluents into the sea. He said that marine environment in the vicinity of Keamari port had become highly polluted to the extent that merchant vessels were virtually floating on garbage dumped near the port.

The retired naval commodore said that when he had joined the Pakistan Navy back in the early 1970s, the condition of the sea near the Keamari port were much clean so much so that one could easily swim there. While children of the local communities had developed the hobby to collect coins from the seabed in order to show acrobats to visitors.

He said that Bahria Foundation along with the concerned organizations like the WWF and NFEH would launch an awareness campaign for fishermen communities living in the coastal areas in order to make them fully alert about the hazards of marine pollution.

He said that LNG Terminal Project of Bahria Foundation in Sonmiani Bay area would fully take into account the cause of conserving coral reefs in the nearby marine area, especially at the famous marine protected area of Charna Island.

Dr Nuzhat Khan from the National Institute of Oceanography said the system of community shredders should be introduced to the communities living in the coastal areas in order to properly dispose of plastic waste as the recycling of plastic material would also generate economic activity for these low-income families.

She said that coastal communities should be encouraged to collect plastic waste for its recycling instead of burning it as this practice releases highly harmful effects on marine life and environment.

Brig (retd) Tariq Lakhiar of the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company said that the Thar coal and power project was being expeditiously completed while fully taking care of the environment of the area and by planting one million trees in the semi-desert area of Sindh.

He said that after doing Thar Coal and power project, Engro would invest to do renewable energy projects of solar and wind power in Balochistan. Afia Salam, a senior environmental journalist, said that brick kilns working outside the city areas had now started burning plastic waste for their operations as the kiln operators didn’t find any other less harmful material, including woods for burning.

She said that wherever the recycling of plastic waste was not a feasible option, the concerned citizens should adopt the firm habit to refuse usage of such wasteful plastic products. Imran Sabir, deputy director (Technical) of Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa), said that owing to efforts of Sepa, some 2,300 million kilograms of biodegradable plastic products had been introduced in Sindh.

He said that a number of big departmental, superstores and renowned companies in Karachi had adopted the practice of using and selling disposable products made up of biodegradable plastic as this campaign should further be promoted for the other concerned sections of the society.

Waqar Hussain Phulpoto, director (Technical) of Sepa, said that Sepa had just 16 inspectors in a big city like Karachi while the provincial environmental watchdog had no district level offices in the province.

He said that despite all these limitations, Sepa had started taking due penal and lawful action against organisations and agencies spreading pollution and causing damage to the environment as prosecution for such cases had been initiated even against certain district municipal corporations and hospitals in Karachi which were involved in unsafe disposal of municipal and solid waste.

Courtesy: The News

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