Despite rising pollution levels in the state, 17-30 per cent posts in the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) are vacant, observed the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in a report tabled in the Gujarat Assembly, Thursday.
Some of these posts have been vacant since 2008 and the shortage of staff is affecting pollution sampling and monitoring activities, it added.
“Starting with a staff of 25 in 1974, the sanctioned strength of GPCB in January 2018 was 728 in 38 categories… Despite the manifold increase in work over the years and increasing pollution in the state, the Gujarat government in February 2018 abolished 223 posts and left GPCB to accomplish its regulatory function through 505 posts only,” CAG stated in a report titled “Performance Audit of Air Pollution Control by Government of Gujarat”.
As on March 1, 2021, the sanctioned strength of the GPCB was 513. Against this, 105 posts were vacant since 2008. “In technical cadres (environment engineers and scientists), there were 17 per cent vacancies, while in other cadres, there were 30 per cent vacancies as on March 2021. Thus, the GPCB is running with inadequate Human Resources. The impact of an acute shortage of staff can gauged from fewer sampling and monitoring activities,” the CAG stated.
In response, the Gujarat government in January 2022 said “continuous efforts” were being made to tackle the staff crunch.
The GPCB is responsible for monitoring and supervising 30,964 industries, 46,563 health care units, 34 common effluent treatment plants, 21 common bio-medical waste treatment facilities, 32 treatment, storage and disposal facility sites and other landfill sites under the municipal solid waste rules in state.
The CAG found that the GPCB was monitoring Ambient Air Quality in only 14 cities and was not monitoring major industrial estates prone to air pollution such as Sanand, Mandal, Viramgam, Kalol, Halol and Ranoli among others.
It also found the regulator unable to enforce installation of Online Continuous Emission Monitoring System (OCEMS) in 67 of the 422 highly polluting units, despite a lapse of six years.
The CAG also found that the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation was dumping solid waste near banks of Sabarmati river in Gandhinagar.