Islamabad’s decision to ban flimsy plastic bags that get thrown away after being used has been hailed by many as a correct step for the future. People affiliated with the plastic bag industry have, however, said that the way the government went about this ban has cost hundreds of thousands of people their jobs.
Holding placards with anti-government slogans, people working at plastic factories staged a protest in Islamabad on Wednesday. They have claimed that more than 8,000 factories have been shut down in Punjab because of the ban.
“I can’t even afford two meals a day now,” a worker who has been rendered jobless told SAMAA TV.
More than 200 people were working at a single factory, said All Pakistan Anjuman Tajaran President Ajmal Baloch. Then there were the salespersons, he said. They have all lost their jobs now, he said.
The factory owners have said that those who placed the ban didn’t listen to them.
“What are we supposed to do with the expensive machinery we had put in our factories,” asked a person whose factory has been shut down. “They should’ve given us some time at least.”
He said that he told the authorities that he wants to start producing biodegradable bags, which are being produced by other factories. “They, however, asked us to close down our factories just like that without giving us any time.”
Plastic bags have been banned in the federal capital since August 14 as part of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Clean Green Pakistan campaign. It is now illegal to manufacture, sell and distribute plastic bags in the city.
After the ban, producers can be fined up to Rs500,000, while sellers can be fined up to Rs50,000 and people who will be seen plastic bags can be fined up to Rs5,000.
The Ministry of Climate Change has claimed that it has seized nearly 2.5 million polythene bags as part of the crackdown against the use of plastic bags in the capital city. The government, along with some NGOs, has even distributed tote bags among the people to use instead.