The Sindh government’s ban on the manufacture, sale, and purchase of plastic bags has fizzled out in just two months since its announcement.
The provincial government had started a rigorous campaign to eliminate one of the primary causes of environmental pollution. However, the cosmetic efforts for political point-scoring failed badly.
The ban that came into effect from October 1st could not be seen anywhere in the major cities of the province like Karachi, Hyderabad, and Nawabshah, let alone the rural areas.
“It was an artificial ban,” said one of the shopkeepers in Saddar, Karachi. “It was just like the ban on gutka consumption and manufacturing.”
A wholesaler of polythene bags in Kharadar said:
We heard on TV that such a ban was being imposed and plastic bags won’t be available in the market anymore. But they are available everywhere. No one has even visited us.
Other small shopkeepers, when asked about the ban, said that they wouldn’t buy plastic bags if they were not there for sale.
Regular polythene bags are cheaper and easily available in the market as compared to biodegradable bags.
A retailer from Lyari, where some of the plastic bags factories are located, said that the manufacturers of the banned item are functioning as usual without any halt.
All factories are openly manufacturing the same stuff. There was a bit of strictness from the police on government orders, but it did not last long.
He added that such a ban, in fact, creates new opportunities for corrupt police officials who demand double extortion [Bhatta] for running the business.