THE NATIONAL Green Tribunal has ordered the removal of the chairperson of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), along with the chairpersons of nine other states, for failure to meet ‘requisite qualifications’ for the post. In Maharashtra, Additional Chief Secretary (environment), senior IAS officer Satish Gavai, the chairperson of MPCB, has been directed to leave his post. Gavai said the state government will be filing an appeal against the NGT, order passed by the principal bench in New Delhi on June 8.
“We will be filing an appeal before the Supreme Court against the order. We are also in the process of first seeking a stay, so the administrative work of the MPCB, for which the chairperson is responsible, does not come to a grinding halt,” Gavai told The Indian Express. The MPCB is responsible for implementing various environmental legislations and plan programmes for the prevention, control and abatement of pollution. In its previous order passed in August last year, the NGT had said that the post of the chairman of the state PCB is ‘of sensitivity and responsibility’, as the environmental status of the state would depend on the Board he is heading.
The tribunal added that many appointments to the post of chairperson were ‘ad-hoc’ temporary postings made as ‘stop-gap arrangements’. “The Tribunal cannot remain a silent spectator in respect of improper and illegal workings of PCB/committee, and its consequences and repercussion to the public at large. It is rather strange that despite more than sufficient time having been given by the Tribunal, the aforesaid states did not take steps to implement the judgment passed by the Tribunal on 24th August, 2016,” the tribunal had said.
The NGT had given states, including Maharashtra, time till November 2016 to implement its previous order and appoint ‘qualified’ persons to the post. Last month, the NGT also issued show-cause notices to the states, which had not implemented its order, including Maharashtra. In their replies, the heads of the departments had justified their qualifications for the post. The NGT, however, had said there was a requirement of educational qualification and experience for appointment to the post of the board chairperson, including special knowledge and practical experience in environment protection.
It added that the person should essentially acquire such special knowledge after obtaining a post graduation in environmental sciences and environmental management, or degree in engineering/technology in environmental engineering or an equivalent degree. “As to know how some of the chairmen of the state pollution control boards are being manned without having requisite qualifications, by bureaucrats, politicians, etc. can be seen in the case of pollution control boards of the states of Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, etc,” the tribunal had said.
It added that the appointees to the posts in these states continue to be lacking in qualification or experience. It said that despite providing ample time and opportunity, these states have failed to comply. “…We deem it just and proper, and in the interest of public at large, to order that the Chairman of…Maharashtra Pollution Control Board shall cease to function as chairman of the respective Pollution Control Board,” the tribunal had said.
A senior state government official deemed the order to be ‘unfair’, pointing out that the state rules regarding the appointment for the post of chairperson continue to not have such requirements. “The qualifications for the post of chairperson in the state boards is completely at the discretion of the state government. If certain qualifications are required in the person holding the post, it should be specified in the state rules, which currently do not have any such requirements,” said the official.