the great plastic ban and other stories

there are several old sayings to the effect of something like “one man’s fortune is another man’s loss” or “one man’s luck is another man’s curse” or even “one man’s stolen mobile is another man’s cash equivalent” – well ok, that’s a relatively new saying – but few people would have associated this with banning plastic bags. even so, when the powers that be finally banned a certain range of micron grade plastic bags in the city, after at least a decade of hue and cry mind you, several people jumped for joy. there were the environmentalists, the conservationists, the social-minded journalists and all other “-ists” that you can think of except internists at veterinary hospitals because the turtles seem to have their biggest problem solved.

nobody noticed the blokes from the capital city police department doing their celebratory bhangra….

for all the fine work done by our lawmakers and policymakers and the fine enforcement done by our supremely efficient “law enforcing authorities” (i love that term. its like something an insane child would have conjured up for show-and-tell in the third grade), in the sixty years of pakistan’s existence, there has not been a single law that has not been publicly flouted. and there have been few of these public floutings that have not made our khaki and grey clad gentlemen’s pockets a little heavier, if you follow my gist. and mundane as it may seem to the average shopper, a crime with a penalty of upto rs. 50,000 and six months in the pen is a veritable gold mine for any self-respecting city cop.

and so this humble scribe witnessed today a series of raids carried out in the nazimabad region by a bunch of paunchy tullas accompanied by the token officer from the city district government. the interesting thing about the raids was not the guy in civvies who kept reminding the sales staff about the maximum penalty. nor was it the other bloke who was having a ball of a time checking practically half the bags in the airconditioned shop on his micronmeter while the mobile driver had his little siesta outside in the sweltering heat. and it wasn’t even the grinning cop who bought one gulabjamun for himself to celebrate the fact that “city government kaam kar rahi hai”. no. it was the selection of shops that had been made. the little guys were all ignored and while that may make sense to some, it doesn’t really make sense because they’re the ones most likely to be breaking the law. the inspectors chose only those shops which are hugely successful, like ahbab sweets and real bakery, owned by guys who whether or not they mey be so inclined (and i’m definitely not suggesting that they are) certainly have the deep pockets to make the cops leave with smiles on their faces.

and despite my badgering and trailing and irritating them for fifty minutes the only response i got to my query as to why they hadn’t invaded the legendary gole market, only a stone’s throw away and home to a whole bunch of plastic bag wholesalers, was “that’s next on our list”. i asked if i could see the so-called list but well, some things are classified in the interests of national security. we understand.

the guys at gole market had not been visited even five hours after i left the lovely raiding party. ho hum. i suppose they probably busted enough gangs of illicit plastic bag dealers to call it a day. but i shouldn’t complain. one man’s pain in the neck is another man’s discount-worthy customer. the amused guys at the bakery gave me a seven rupee discount on the sixty-seven rupee purchase. way cool.

17 Comments so far

  1. d0ct0r (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 1:27 am

    bakeries you mentioned are already using premium quality plastic bags.. its those hawkers and fruit sellers who are still using the banned plastic bags.. and they don’t even seem worried about it.. unless the banned product’s sale isn’t suspended by suppliers it will continue to be used by small scale

  2. sarah (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 4:05 am


  3. sarah (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 4:07 am

    meant to say “NOT” one time only….!!!:D

  4. Kashif (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 4:23 am

    Only effect of the ban I have seen is the raise in polythene bag prices. The trash bags I used to get previously for Rs. 90/KG are now Rs. 140/KG

  5. Zainuddin Zafar (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 5:19 am

    and u still didnt stop buying those bags? that is what the difference in price is for kashif!

  6. Khaaksaar (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 9:50 am

    I really appreciate the Sindh Governor Dr. Ishratul Ibad, the City Nazim Mustafa Kamal, The City District Government Karachi (CDGK) and who others have helped in banning the thin plastic bags. This is a good deed done by MQM.
    Now that those plastic bags are banned hopefully the sewerage lines will not get blocked.
    And poor women, children in there small homes will earn money by making paper bags and will be able to eat well, hopefully.

  7. Red_Munk!! (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 10:56 am

    @ Sarah: What would u prefer to see?

    Latest gossip? or fashion tips maybe!? :).

    Look @ it this way X-e-I,

    The police/cdgk find someone violating this law,
    they “fine” him. (more often than not, the person will not be able to pay the 50k & will get away with something smaller).

    After the officers/party wala’s get their share, the person will go out and spend the money on, say, food, clothes for his begum, books for the tykes.. waghaira waghaira…

    As u can see (:P), money goes back into the ecomomy. Everybody wins! :P.


    @ Doc: Hopefully they’ll do that….hopefully.


    @ ZZ: The big black garbage bags are easier to collect than the user friendly ones that end up in places they should not. + what else should he do? Fling the garbage off the wall?

  8. K A RAJA (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 2:50 pm

    C’mon y do we do criticism for the sake of critisism, it’s good they are targeting big shop owners becasue they can afford a change, had they been stopping the small owner their would have been hue and cry of Police been biased and been given bribe by the big shopowners to let them do wat they want. I think small thellas and shop owners have been given some time to cope up with the change.

  9. Kashif (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 3:31 pm

    It’s all eye wash by the government. Like they started ‘strong campaign’ against the milk sellers, stating the milk price is fixed at 28 (while it was publicly sold for 32-34 rs) and now they have officially announced the milk rate between 31-32 – so what’s the big deal?

  10. mansoor (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 5:11 pm

    the smaller ones cant pay, and its no use to make their raids ‘public’. And they’re covered under the ‘bhatta’ scheme anyway, so no go there either.

  11. mansoor (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 5:13 pm

    the interesting thing is.. the police walas had a micronometer :P they’re gettin high tech :D

  12. KhiTorPit (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 9:03 pm

    Its not just Pak. the developed countries are also working out to get rid of this plastic bag problems.
    The difference is they just dont put a ban blindly, they have non-profit organization which works for the recycling stuff and the retailers gives incentives to consumers for not using the plastic bags.

  13. Original-Anon (unregistered) on May 10th, 2007 @ 12:25 am

    Can you please get to the point quickly?Like in 55 or fewer words? I’m sorry but it is really hard to read through these long rambling posts.

  14. Xill-e-Ilahi (unregistered) on May 10th, 2007 @ 2:40 am

    @ doctor: and therein lies the irony. they were the ones who were targeted while the criminals are apparently getting off scot free.

    @ sarah: if you’re looking for passion and romance and drama and sensationalism and violence and stuff – this blog is certainly not the place to be. try the newspapers. they’re definitely more interesting in that way. :)

    @ redmunk: so which thana are you posted at buddy? :P

    @ mansoor: yes. we may soon be watching csi:karachi on tv soon. :)

    @ original-anon: i know you get a kick out of irritating kmb authors but for some reason i can’t recall exactly where we begged you to come visit our blog and read every post. care to refresh my memory?

  15. Red_Munk!! (unregistered) on May 10th, 2007 @ 6:05 am


    CSI is an awsome show(s). Geo will “Masala-fry” it :S.

    What we need here is Jack Bauer (24).

    “Agle wakiyat nau aur das baje ke beech hue”
    *cue the tense music here* :P.

    Although, Bauer might end up spending more time for his stolen phones than the actual crime :P.

    Oh & btw, im at the “Bandar” road station! :P.

  16. zainub (unregistered) on May 10th, 2007 @ 6:34 am

    A well written and enjoyable post, Xill-e-Illahi. The police’s intentions/efficiency in enforcing the ban aside, there is something really fishy about how openly some shops (of the gole market variety) go about using plastic bags. I took a photo about this at Flickr not that long ago :

  17. Xill-e-Ilahi (unregistered) on May 10th, 2007 @ 12:56 pm

    thanks zainub!!

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