September 22, 2018 8:28:56 am
Over 5,000 samples of river water, sewage and other wastes being sent for analysis every month at the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board’s (MPCB) eight labs, the system is now reeling under the increasing workload. MPCB has submitted a proposal to the state to add 600 personnel to the existing strength of 837 staffers.
Even the National Green Tribunal, in a recent order, had observed that technical and scientific manpower with MPCB was far from satisfactory. In a case related to water pollution in the Mula Mutha river, the NGT (Western Bench) had said that the water quality parameters were far from satisfactory and the MPCB should implement the monitoring protocol at least four times a year.
However, the Bench, comprising Justice S P Wangdi and Dr Nagin Nanda, in their July 18 order had said that the position at MPCB with regard to manpower — both technical and scientific, and logistics — in terms of laboratory equipment — was far from satisfactory. There was just one laboratory catering to the Pune region, it observed.
The NGT Bench has directed the MPCB to come out with a comprehensive action plan, with timelines, to augment the manpower and logistics. “The aim is to add another 600 to the existing strength of 837 and set up two more laboratories at Kolhapur and Nanded,” outgoing member secretary of MPCB P Anbalagan told The Indian Express.
While the process of creating new posts and filling staff is likely to take a couple of months, officials at sub regional offices across the state admit that with limited field staff they were unable to take up site inspections or conduct surveys to strictly implement various environmental legislations. Requesting anonymity, several officials with the sub regional offices in the state, cited examples of their increasing workload. For instance in Pune, officials admitted that they were restricted to carrying out routine industrial inspections.
“We are required to check whether hospitals have their own sewage treatment plants. But barring the listed ones, which are 100-bedded and above and registered with the pollution control body, there is no manpower to conduct baseline surveys or carry out random checks,” an MPCB official admitted.
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