NGT directs chief secretaries to fill up vacant posts in state pollution control boards in 6 months

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New Delhi, Feb 9 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal has directed the chief secretaries of all states and union territories to fill up vacant posts in state pollution control boards by competent persons within six months and procure requisite equipment for testing, including commissioning and upgradation of all laboratories.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said there are serious deficiencies and undue delay in recruiting the sanctioned manpower, adequacy and upgradation of laboratories resulting in continued damage to the environment.

The tribunal directed the Central Pollution Control Board to assist and monitor all the States for compliance of the directions and said that the exercise be completed within six months.

'We direct the CPCB to prepare a format which may contain qualifications, minimum eligibility criteria, required experience for the key positions and the specifications of equipment.

'All States/UTs may act accordingly. Ministry of Environment and Forests and CPCB may design a mechanism for annual performance audit of all the state pollution control boards,' the bench said.

The green panel said that damage to the environment is directly linked to the public health and neglecting compliance of environmental norms results in deaths and injuries.

Violation of environmental norms needs to be taken as seriously as preventing crimes of homicides and assaults, it said adding that it is more serious as the victims may be widespread and unidentified.

The tribunal said that if some of the state pollution control boards find it difficult to recruit suitable candidates, a designated Committee of the MoEF and CPCB, in consultation with such state pollution control boards, may explore the possibility of the central selection mechanism so that the talent pool so selected can be made available for posting at appropriate locations.

In view of the findings in the CPCB report that at some places administrative manpower is more than technical manpower, such situation may be reviewed and remedied by the concerned States, the tribunal.

'The observations that the work of regulators should be fulltime for the incumbents appointed applies to all key positions, including Chairman/ Member Secretary and Regional Officers, Engineers, Scientists of PCBs/PCCs. 'Such incumbents may not be given any other additional charge. Only exception can be in States where there are no significant environmental issues so as to provide the incumbents fulltime work. Such States may seek exemption in respect of this direction from CPCB, giving relevant information justifying such exemption.

It directed the CPCB and the state pollution control boards to utilise Environment Compensation funds on laboratory upgradation, and on approved District Environment Plans.

'Consistent with Digital India initiatives, MoEF/MoJS/CPCB may consider setting up and periodically updating National Environment Data Grid linked to the State Environment Data Grids DEDGs and further linked to available portals like online air/water quality, Sameer and other monitoring stations to facilitate analysis, research and planning on the subject,' the NGT said.

The directions came while hearing a plea against pollution of river Daman Ganga and drain Bill Khadi in District Valsad in Gujarat on account of discharge of effluents by industries. PTI PKS RKS RKS