Faced with an acute staff crunch in the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB),the state government has decided to approach the Election Commission (EC) to allow it to fill up important posts in the vital body. The staff crunch in GPCB has made it difficult for the body to carry out raids to ensure the proper disposal of biomedical waste in the wake of the Hepatitis B virus outbreak in Modasa.
As many as 272 posts (mainly technical hands) are lying vacant for over two years in the GPCB. Besides,the Board has no regular Chairman or Member Secretary. Principal Secretary (Expenditure Finance Department) C L Meena has been holding the additional charge of GPCB chairman for over two years now.
State Forest and Environment Minister Mangubhai Patel told Newsline on Friday: I admit that the GPCB is facing an acute shortage of staff. Since the model code of conduct is in force,we will approach the EC and request it to grant permission to the government to fill up the vacant slots.
The state Forest and Environment Department,under which the GPCB functions,is also learnt to have written to the Chief Ministers Office (CMO) to ensure that the vacant slots are filled up at the earliest. It has also called for regularising the posts of GPCB Chairman and Member Secretary.
A senior official in the department said the GPCB must have a full-time chairman and a member secretary. Even the Supreme Court has issued a directive to all states to have a regular chairman and member secretary in their respective Pollution Control Boards (PCBs),he said,adding that the non-regularisation of these two vital posts has affected GPCBs functioning.
We have to take the shortage of technical staff with a pinch,especially when the GPCB is confronted with a stupendous task of handling the current issue of bio-medical waste disposal across the state in the wake of the Hepatitis-B outbreak in Sabarkantha and other parts of Gujarat, said the official.
A GPCB document containing the updated staff strength reveals that the posts of a Chief Environmental Engineer (CEE) and two deputy CEEs have been lying vacant for long,even after being sanctioned by the government. The slots of a Chief Environmental Scientist (CES) and two deputy CESs have also not been filled up either.
Several posts of environmental engineers and scientific officers,both in senior and junior categories,have also been lying vacant for over two years now. After repeated representations by the GPCB,the government had recently sanctioned as many as 716 posts,of which only 444 have been filled up. We have been sending reminders to the government to fill up the remaining 272 slots,but in vain, an official said.
He said due to the inadequate staff strength,the GPCB is finding it difficult to fulfil the task of monitoring and enforcing the various pollution-related laws and rules in the state. In fact,the Board has to remain content only with issuing notices to defaulting industrial units or private nursing homes violating the bio-medical waste rules,he added.