Use of plastic shopping bags have been banned in Hunza, a Gilgit-Baltistan district.
The administration of Hunza district directed traders to use up all present stock of shopping bags by April 20. “Plastic bags are detrimental to the natural environment and human health,” a district administration circular states. “All the traders dealing in plastic bags should end their stock by April 20.”
It will be considered an offence to make, use, purchase, export or import plastic bags, according to the district administration’s statement.
The ban has been imposed on recommendation by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Karakoram Area Development Organization.
The mountainous valley of Hunza that sits on the extreme northern border of Pakistan is considered a hub of tourism. Thousands of tourists annually visit the scenic valley from abroad and inside the country.
Tourism has played a vital role in the area’s economic growth. But the natural environment has suffered mainly owing to the increased use of plastic shopping bags.
There is no dumping site in Hunza to dispose off rubbish.
Earlier, other provinces also announced a ban on the use of plastic shopping bags. However, no one could ensure its proper implementation, majorly because of a lack of awareness and alternative arrangements.
The district administration has also prepared cloth and paper bags – alternatives for the plastic bags – which will be available in all commercial centres. The administration has sought the services of vocational training centers established in Hunza for persons with disabilities. It will provide them the raw material at subsidised rates.
“We launched an awareness campaign about the deleterious effects of plastic shoppers in collaboration with the Karakoram Area Development Organization,” said Khadim Hussain, deputy-director Environmental Protection Agency Gilgit-Baltistan, while talking to SAMAA TV.
“We took the local population and businessmen in confidence for the purpose. They welcomed the step and assured their complete cooperation,” he said.
In consultation with the local population, we have decided to impose the restriction which will be in force from April 20, said Hussain. The restriction will lead to new business opportunities in Hunza as paper and cloth bags will be prepared in the valley, he said.
Signboards have been placed at the city’s entrance for proper awareness of the visitors. Stalls for shopper bags made of paper and cloth have also been set up for tourists.
The restriction on plastic bags will be place first in Hunza Valley, said the Gilgit-Baltistan Environmental Protection Agency. Later, the ban will be extended to other areas of Gilgit-Baltistan too.