Plastic Peril in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) faces a severe plastic waste crisis, generating 3,000 metric tonnes annually, with over 1,700 tonnes recklessly dumped, threatening the fragile ecosystem. The Kashmir Valley's lack of an effective waste management system exacerbates the issue, with civic authorities implicated in dumping. Over 50% of waste in Kashmir is untreated, impacting the region's ecology and public health. The government collaborates with the World Economic Forum, introducing the Clean and Green Pakistan Index and the National Plastic Action Partnership to combat plastic pollution. Urgent measures, behavioral changes, increased funding, and a robust waste management system are crucial for addressing this pressing crisis.


Dr. Pravin G. Kadam

12/27/20232 min read

The region of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) is confronting a severe and escalating crisis concerning plastic waste. Reports indicate that the valley produces an astonishing 3,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste annually, a staggering amount that poses a severe threat to the delicate ecosystem. More than 1,700 metric tonnes of this plastic waste find its way into agricultural fields, green forests, and water bodies through reckless dumping, exacerbating the environmental challenges faced by the region. The gravity of the situation has prompted urgent calls from experts to address this pressing crisis, highlighting the critical need for comprehensive waste management strategies.

The waste crisis in POK is exacerbated by the lack of an effective waste management system, particularly in the Kashmir Valley. The absence of proper waste disposal infrastructure contributes to the indiscriminate dumping of plastic waste in various natural habitats. Wetlands, lakes, and deep drains have become choked with plastic waste, leading to continuous pollution. Shockingly, civic authorities, entrusted with implementing waste management rules, are found to be involved in the act of dumping, compounding the challenges faced in addressing the crisis. In the 2019-20 annual budget, a mere INR 40 million (USD 564,000) was allocated for rural waste management, signaling a significant gap in financial resources dedicated to tackling this pervasive issue.

The plastic waste crisis in POK is not merely an environmental concern but also a critical public health issue. Over 50 percent of the waste in Kashmir is disposed of without proper treatment, resulting in adverse effects on the region's ecology. The unscientific dumping of waste gives rise to various problems, including aesthetic challenges, different types of pollution, and other related issues. The implications of such actions extend beyond the environmental realm, affecting the overall well-being of the population.

Recognizing the severity of the plastic waste crisis, the government of Pakistan has initiated several measures to combat the issue. Collaborating with the World Economic Forum, Pakistan has launched the Clean and Green Pakistan Index, a comprehensive framework aimed at fostering healthier and cleaner cities. This initiative includes the imposition of bans on single-use plastics, raising awareness, and establishing visible partnerships with local and international organizations dedicated to waste management. The National Plastic Action Partnership (NPAP) has been established to create a circular economy framework for plastics through locally-led platforms, bringing together influential policymakers, business leaders, and civil society advocates. This collaborative effort seeks to deliver a national action plan to drastically reduce plastic pollution and address the staggering height equivalent of Pakistan's waste accumulation—16,500 meters, equivalent to two K2 mountains, the world’s second-highest mountain.

The plastic waste crisis in POK demands immediate and concerted attention. The reckless dumping of waste not only poses a severe threat to the fragile ecosystem but also endangers public health. While the government of Pakistan has undertaken commendable initiatives to combat the plastic waste crisis, the magnitude of the issue requires further action. Behavioral changes, increased financial allocations for waste management, and the establishment of an effective waste management system are essential components in the ongoing battle against plastic pollution in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The collaboration with international organizations, such as the World Economic Forum, demonstrates a commitment to addressing the issue at a broader scale. However, sustained efforts, public awareness, and a holistic approach are necessary to bring about lasting change and ensure a cleaner and healthier environment for the region.