The Punjab government has finalized the draft bill for imposing a complete ban on the use of plastic bags in the province, which would be presented in the cabinet for approval soon. The draft bill, after passing through various government departments, bodies, committees and subcommittees and other stakeholders, was in its final shape to be presented to the provincial cabinet for approval. Well placed sources in the Environment Protection Department (EPD) told APP here on Sunday that though the draft bill had been formulated, the procedural formalities and legal consultation took time to give it the final shape. He said that after getting approval from the cabinet, it would be presented in the provincial assembly to get it passed. At present, the Plastic bag act 2002 was in place which allows manufacturing of 15 micron plastic bags only and a complete ban on black polythene bags. Since more than 8,000 small and big manufacturing units were attached with the plastic bag industry, he said the government did not want to create hurdles in their businesses, and it therefore devised a phase vise plan to impose complete ban on its manufacturing and supply in the market. In the first six months after the imposition of the law, only 50 micron size plastic bags would be allowed to be manufactured. After a six months period, a complete ban would be applied on the manufacturing so that people attached with the industry could make alternative arrangements to keep their businesses running. Initially, he said that environment inspectors were only authorized to inspect the quality and permitted standard of plastic bags, but there were a limited number of inspectors in the EPD and they were unable to do the job efficiently. “To provide support to them, the city district governments were made part of the job to check the law compliance within their areas”, he added. Rules of the local government also authorized them to check its implementation. However, when contacted, a spokesperson for the district administration said that no action was being taken by the administration at present to check the quality of plastic bags’ use in the market. Environmental Expert Muhammad Imran said that excessive use of plastic bags in our society was increasing environmental and health hazards and regulation on its use was vital to protect the environment and human health. He said that plastic bags were a major non-decaying component in the solid wastes and the general public was unaware of its harmful effects on the soil and human health. He stressed the need to create awareness among people about such harms and to motivate them to give up using plastic bags in order to protect the environment. He said that strict legislation about the use of plastic bags was equally important and the authorities concerned should expedite the process to impose a complete ban on its use.