The provincial government is reluctant to post directors in Punjab Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as several of its directorates have been lying without directors for the past several months, Minute Mirror has learned.
Out of six directorates, only one post has been filled due to which EPA is facing severe administrative problems in running its functions, while this delay is also hampering the efficiency of the agency.
According to details, there have been at least six directorates gazetted in EPA to run its functions. These directorates include admin, monitoring, lab and implementation (ML&I); legal and communication; environmental health, dengue and hazardous substance (EDH); environmental impact assessment (EIA); and planning and communication (P&C).
EPA is running its functions by filling the post of director in the legal and communication directorate. Luckily, this is the only directorate continuing its functions with a regular director of scale 19.
EPA has another regular director of scale 19, but the Punjab government is reluctant to post him in any directorate. One of the most important parts of EPA is the ML&I directorate, which is responsible for testing and measuring the air and water quality in the province.
Moreover, all the decisions, while preparing any policy regarding the environment, are taken based on laboratory reports.
Due to the vacant post of its director(s), EPA has come under criticism from different quarters for not measuring environmental pollution properly. The directorate of EIA is also without a permanent director for over one year.
“Owing to the unavailability of the EIA director, hundreds of files are pending for approval in EPA headquarters,” said the sources.
Like ML&I and EIA, the planning and communication (P&C) directorate was also without a director for a long time. This directorate is responsible for issuing notices, conducting personnel hearings and issuing environmental protection orders (EPOs) to the violators besides its other responsibilities.
Earlier, it was observed that in the absence of a regular director, posts of directors had been filled by giving additional charges to deputy directors for three months.
However, now, the government has not given additional charge of directors to the junior ones.
Sources said that delay in the posting of directors had provided junior officers with an opportunity to work as officiating officers who were unable to deal with matters up to the mark.
They said that it was the responsibility of the Environment Protection Department’s secretary to post the suitable directors on the vacant posts.
When contacted, EPD Secretary Mubashar Hussain was not available for comment. No other official was available to comment due to the strict warning of the department’s secretary not to interact with the media.
Minute Mirror contacted EPD minister Muhammad Rizwan but he also refused to comment, mentioning that it was an administrative matter and the secretary could inform better in this regard.