In a step to promote tourism and protect the environment and beauty of the Hunza valley, a Gilgit-Baltistan district, the use of plastic shopping bags have been banned.
Traders in the valley have been directed by the administration of Hunza district to use up all present stock of shopping bags by April 20th. “Plastic bags are detrimental to the natural environment and human health. All the traders dealing in plastic bags should end their stock by April 20,” read a district administration circular.
The production, purchase, export, import and use of plastic bags will now be considered a legal, punishable offence in Hunza.
The ban was imposed on recommendation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Karakoram Area Development Organization.
Hunza has been an active tourism hub in Pakistan owing to its mountainous beauty and flowing rivers alongside high snow-capped peaks. Thousands of tourists from Pakistan and abroad visit Hunza throughout the year to enjoy its scenic beauty.
However, the natural environment of the region has drastically suffered mainly owing to the increased use of plastic shopping bags. Also there is no dumping site in the valley as well.
As an alternative, the district administration will now be providing commercial centres with cloth and paper bags. Services have been sought from people with disabilities for the production of the alternative bags. These people will be trained at vocational centres established in Hunza and will be provided with raw material at subsidized 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. The restriction will lead to new business opportunities in Hunza as paper and cloth bags will be prepared in the valley,” he said.
Awareness campaigns with signboards throughout the city have been placed alongside stalls for bags made of paper and cloth for the tourists.
Following the ban in Hunza, restriction on plastic bags will then be extended to different areas of Gilgit-Baltistan as well