Altaf Hamid Rao,
MIRPUR (AJK): Speakers including environmental experts while addressing a largely attended seminar hosted by AJK Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) here late Tuesday called upon the masses to focus for the general use of peoples-friendly Biodegradable Shopping Bags to avert the drastic threats of the general plastic shoppers on the human health.
The seminar was hosted by the EPA AJK with the coordination of the concerned DW-2 formula expertise besides the local business community to raise awareness among the masses about the dangerous impacts of the use of general degradable plastic shopping bags on the human health in particularly and the environment in general.
The objective of holding the seminar was to sensitize and motivate all stakeholders to take necessary steps to impose immediate ban on use of plastic bags in AJK. The seminar was proved to be an affective source of knowledge to the masses about the dangerous use of the plastic bags.
The ceremony was addressed among others by Director General EPA Azad Kashmir Raja Muhammad Razaq Khan, President AJKCCI Suhail Shujah Mujahid, President Markazi Anjuman e Tajran Ch. Muhammad Naeedm, Members of the Environmental Protection Council of AJK Govt. and President Environmental Journalist Forum Altaf Hamid Rao and Country Director Muslim Hands UK Raja Arslaan Nusrat, Div. Director Environmental Protection Agency Mirpur Muhammad Idrees and representatives of the DW-2 Formula Experts Entrepreneur.
A large number of people belonging to all segments of the civil society including officials of various stake holder institutions, members of the business fraternity and social workers attended.
Environmental experts including Director General Environmental Protection Agency and officials of EPA Punjab delivered lectures on the key title of the seminar.
Addressing the seminar Director General AJK-EPA Raja Muhammad Razaq Khan said that that the environment has gained great significance worldwide—as “Rights of Future Generations” are closely aligned with the “Rights of Nature”. “And in order to ensure protection of environment, there are various international and regional Conventions and Agreements—to which Govt. of Pakistan also being signatory, is equally obliged under international law to take all measures necessary to protect our serine environment”,
He asserted that his institution – EPA was eagerly pursuing the multidimensional policy to achieve the objectives as per law in real spirit, viz: Awareness amongst stakeholders as well as Enforcement— so please remember, that you all being important stakeholders, are being taken onboard for safeguarding the nature and natural resources.
Raja Razaq underlined that the the Challenges faced to our pristine environment, are of various in number while multi-dimensional in nature—that, among-others, include the Consistent Decrease in Forests and poor process of regeneration. He continued Cascading of Hydropower projects in Jhelum and Poonch basin—in many cases option of diversion of waters through tunnelling is applied; (such situations create various challenges for downstream echo system —and maintaining proper E-flow); un-regulated mushrooming of Stone Crusher Plants and extraction of minerals and quarrying in un-scientific and un-pragmatic manners; Though we have small industrial zone in South but unfortunately, it is environmentally Un-managed;
Similarly, Management of Municipal and Hospital waste is also posing a serious threat to our serine environment —and it has emerged as a serious challenge for policy implementers, he added.
The EPA AJK Chief particularly focused on the issue of non-biodegradable Plastic shopping bags. Disposable shopping bags are convenient, but they are a major source of waste and pollution in our society. Plastic shopping bags on land are one of the most common types of litter. Build ups of huge quantities of plastic bags are well known to block local drainage systems.
Razaq warned that that Plastic shopping bags also pose health risks to human populations over the years as they leach toxins into water supplies. One alternative solution to these ordinary non-biodegradable plastic bags is to use Oxo-biodegradable plastic bags. Oxo-biodegradable plastic degrades due to exposure to the elements (sunlight, heat, and microorganisms). Two years is an estimation based on the average conditions. “The actual amount of time required to degrade a bag will be longer or shorter depending on the amount of exposure”, he said adding that we believe this is an optimal situation. Oxo-biogradable plastic bags degrade fastest in the exact situation we want them to when they turned into litter.
Speakers highlighted the disastrous causes of the use of polythin/plastic shopping bags to the human health and to the environment and advised the people to immediately stop their use of the plastic-made shoppers to avert its severe threats to the human health and the environment.
Speakers said that since the extensive use of plastic shopping bags has become the major environmental threat and hazardous for the environment in AJK and according to Environmental Protection Act, 2000 the production and use of the plastic hags has been prohibited in AJK, but still the bags are used in wide range all over AJK.
They called upon the people to perform their individual and collective role to fight against environmental pollution in all forms. He emphasized the need of immediate giving up the use of plastic shopping bag and instead focus for using the bio-degradable shopping bags. They also called upon the AJK food authorities water supply agencies to ensure the supply of pure food and hygienic water to the public with special focus to protect the human health from any sort of polluted water.