The Express Tribune: Rs 24.5 million given to ‘plastic-free Gilgit


Gilgit-Baltistan’s government has distributed Rs 24,5 million in interest-free loan to promote green alternatives and reduce the use of plastic bags. The microcredit programme is part G-B’s efforts to encourage businesses to invest into biodegradable and reusable alternatives.

The G-B government recently introduced a microcredit loan programme that allocated Rs150 million as interest-free loans to green business entrepreneurs. The funds are sourced from the Gilgit-Baltistan Environmental Protection Agency and the Gilgit-Baltistan Rural Support Programme. They support the “plastic-free Gilgit”. These loans are one time with a one-year return period and no option for renewal.

Shehzad Shigri, GB-EPA director, explained to The Express Tribune that the scheme offers interest-free microcredits in three categories – women-led businesses, wholesalers and large-scale producers. In order to prevent inconvenience, the government decided to include the private sector in its anti-plastic bag campaign. Alternatives such as reusable bags made of sustainable materials, paper and biodegradable bag were considered to be viable.

On the market, there are a large number of paper, cloth and non-woven bags. Shigri applauded the efforts of these manufacturers and suppliers and promised support for their business.

Businesses that produce biodegradable bags, or switch to them, can receive financial incentives. This will help offset the costs of switching from plastic bags. Ahmed Ali Siddiqui of the IBA Centre for Excellence in Islamic Finance responded that interest-free lending is consistent with Islamic principles, and encourages small entrepreneurs to foster social responsibility.

The GB-EPA disbursed Rs24.5million in loans under the GBRSP of the G-B Government. These loans were distributed in Gilgit only. They included two loans of Rs19 million each, three loans of Rs3 million and five loans totaling Rs2.5 million. Four loans worth Rs0.1 million have also been distributed, and one is still pending.

GB-EPA invited loan applications for the districts of Hunza and Ghizer. Loans will be granted after a thorough examination. The Faizabad unit in Nomal has a production capacity of 30 tonnes per month. This is enough to meet Gilgit’s 16 tonnes of non-woven bags. The rest can be exported into other parts of the country. Soon, another unit will be opened in Singul District Ghizer.

Benches and Bins

Bins and benches made of recycled plastic are used in the Gilgit District within the Karakoram Range and Shangrila Lakes of Skardu. This is a prime example of the government’s initiative to offset plastic waste. This innovative approach shows a commitment towards minimising waste and maximising resources efficiency.

In this cycle of harmony, plastics that are thrown away find new life as functional infrastructure. They do not become pollutants but rather integral parts of the system, embodying sustainability and circularity.

Nestle, the Swiss water giant, has recently joined the GB-EPA plastic offset initiative. Nestle’s involvement in the campaign highlights the G-B Government’s proactive efforts towards addressing plastic waste and promoting sustainability. Shigri said that this partnership is also a sign of G-B’s efforts to advance innovative solutions for reducing plastic waste in G-B Pakistan’s scenic landscape and “tourist region”. Nestle, according to Shigri, has so far installed three PET crushing and bailing machine, set up three PET collection centers in Gilgit Skardu and Hunza and contributed towards G-B PET awareness campaign.

Nestle also installed two segregation systems for waste in Gilgit and Skardu, as per the agreement, which was approved by the GB Cabinet. This initiative is part the G-B Government’s Plastic Free Campaign. In collaboration with GBRSP, similar units will be set up in Diamer Division and Baltistan Division to promote green business and jobs and make G-B plastic free.

Muhammad Rahat Hussain confirmed the news and said that benches and garbage bins made of recycled plastics had been installed in tourist hotspots throughout Gilgit, Hunza and Skardu. These include Gilgit City Park and Attabad Lake – Hunza; Upper Kachura Lake and Lower Kachura Road – Skardu; and Viewpoint Sadpara Lake at Viewpoint Sadpara Lake.