ISLAMABAD-The Ministry of Climate Change is going to set up 30 kiosks in different shopping malls and markets across the federal capital to distribute environment-friendly bags as alternate to plastic bags.

The MoCC Senior Joint Secretary Hammad Shamimi said that the decision had been made after much hue and cry created against the ban imposed on the plastic bags.

He said that it was not the government’s mandate to produce alternates rather prescribes the substitute for prohibited item in legislation. It was the producers who would have to manage the stock themselves, he added. Shamimi said, “We have made cotton, jute and other fabric bags to be distributed among the people on these kiosks at various shopping malls. The ban on plastic bags has given employment opportunity for poor widows and underprivileged communities of the society.”

The corporate sector had taken this initiative positively and had subsidized the production of cotton bags which had helped such masses to produce cotton bags at home to earn a reasonable livelihood, he added.

The senior joint secretary said that in a meeting held at MoCC it was decided to incorporate transgender community inside the plastic bags ban awareness and implementation campaign. However, a group of around eight social organizations of the federal capital took the responsibility to manage one lac cotton bags from Faisalabad at a very short notice. Those cotton bags were later distributed among the transgender to sale them out in the market so that a respectable source of income could be managed for them as they were being persecuted at traffic signals and other public areas for money, he added.

Shamimi said, “We will also let the transgender to provide alternate at the kiosks which will make the initiative all-inclusive and public-friendly programme.”

He informed that the federal capital was divided into 4 zones and the implementation team comprised of four assistant commissioners, Environmental Protection Agency representative, media person, MoCC representative, police team and Islamabad Municipal Corporation official.

“Most of the complaints have been received regarding sector E-11 being out of the Capital Development Authority jurisdiction. We visited each shop in the sector and only noticed plastic bags at a milk shop where all other outlets are complying with the ban imposed on plastic bags,” he added.

The shopkeepers were happier about the ban imposed as an average retailer had to buy Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 worth plastic bags which he used to give away to the consumers for free. Now, they were buying a cotton bag from the wholesalers for Rs 25 and then selling it to consumers for Rs 30 hence, earning an extra profit in their sales, he said.

Lal Khan, a shopkeeper said that he had been running his shop for the last forty years and it was a practice around 35 years back when he used to give pulses, spices and other household items in paper bags. Paper bags were hygienic and environment friendly where the plastic bags were totally detrimental to human health and it was a positive initiative of the government to free the society from its menace, he added.