ISLAMABAD: The citizens of the federal capital, after observing few months’ strict compliance, are openly violating the ban imposed on single use plastic bags amid reduced enforcement of the restriction by the civic agencies. Shopkeepers and individuals are openly using polythene or plastic bags for packaging and dealing of groceries, eatables and other items as observed in different areas of Islamabad. Noushad Khan, a vegetable seller in sector I-8 of the city said that there was strict implementation and enforcement of the ban in its early days, but with the passage of time ‘the restriction has eased down.’ Fayyaz, an owner of a small hut in sector G-7, told APP that the customers demanded to have the items handed over to them in a plastic bag. “If I don’t do that, the other shopkeepers will, and I shall end up losing my customers.” He further said that if the government really wanted to stop usage of plastic bags, then it needed to stop its manufacturing. During a visit to various markets of the federal capital, it was observed that there were some, who were not openly disregarding the ban, but secretly carried plastic bags and produced them on demand of the customer, commonly, in the Weekly Bazaars. While the major shopping centres and stores in the city are strictly adhering to the government’s policy, it is mostly the petty shop owners defying the ban. The government needs to adopt an incentive based approach to bring them on track, said Saima Shafi Bhutta, a teacher. A market in sector G-9 is worth mentioning here for their compliance in this regard. Even the fruit and vegetable sellers there used government approved biodegradable bags marked with a stamp. An official of the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) informed that since imposition of the ban in 2019 till 2021, a total of 256 challans were issued to violators. Out of these, six were issued to manufactures, importers or wholesaler; 144 were issued to shopkeepers, hawkers or stall-holders and 106 were issued to users or individuals involved in the offence. The total amount of penalties imposed during the period was 2.77 million rupees. It was further informed that approximately 3,300 kg polythene plastic bags were confiscated by the enforcement teams comprising Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA), MoCC, and ICT Administration. Pak-EPA is issuing notices to accused persons for personal hearing, and the violators are being issued Environmental Protection Orders. Till now, the teams have made about 800 visits and inspected different parts of the metropolis. One critical issue which needs to be addressed is that polythene bags are not banned in the twin city of Rawalpindi. A significant number of people travel between the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad for work and other purposes; hence, it is very easy for the plastic bags to make their way into Islamabad.