42 per cent posts in MPCB vacant: Ministry data
Even as Mumbai has been witnessing a rise in pollution levels over the last few years, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change data shows that the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) is understaffed by 42 per cent. MPCB has 353 vacant posts out of the 839 sanctioned posts.
The data was released on April 4 this year in reply to a question raised by Sunil Kumar Singh, BJP MP from Jharkhand, in the Lok Sabha. It further showed that across all states and Union Territories, 49 per cent of the sanctioned posts were vacant across state pollution control boards and pollution control committees.
The data furthermore reveals that 193 posts in the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) are vacant out of the sanctioned 577 posts. The CPCB has said that a notification for filling these posts was issued in December last year.
Besides Maharashtra, the highest vacancy in staff strength is in Madhya Pradesh, where out of 1,221 sanctioned posts, 781 are vacant. In Rajasthan 537 posts are vacant out of the total sanctioned strength of 1,140. In Tamil Nadu, 383 out of the 1,036 sanctioned posts are vacant.
Overall, out of 11,103 sanctioned posts in all the 28 states of India, 5,454 posts are presently vacant, while out of the 853 sanctioned posts in eight UTs, 419 are vacant, the ministry’s figures state.
The data also shows that Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh have zero vacant positions, while Mizoram and Sikkim have one vacant position each against a sanctioned strength of 17 and 18.
When contacted an official from MPCB, however, said that almost all the positions in the board are filled at present. “We have a staff strength close to 750 in MPCB, keeping in mind the increase in our workload. Recently we had put in an application to increase our staff strength by 350, which would take the overall strength to 1,100. These figures of empty positions might be showing the additional posts as vacant,” said the official requesting anonymity.
Professor Sachida Nand Tripathi, from IIT-Kanpur, who is known for his works in the field of air quality and atmospheric sciences, said that most of these vacant posts comprise of scientists and engineering cadres.
“I had an opportunity to work with some of the state pollution boards of our country, where I found out that between 30% and 50% of the vacancies are for positions that would require scientific and technical expertise from the candidates. While on the contrary most of the administrative positions in the state pollution boards are filled disproportionately,” Prof Tripathi told The Indian Express.
“Filling these technical and scientific posts are of utmost importance because these branches give the real time data pertaining to a specific issue and based on their findings the administration is able to make an informed decision to mitigate the problem. Be it pollution related to air, water, noise or soil no decision could be taken unless there is a data that will be able to back the case study,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bhagwan Kesbhat, of NGO Waatavaran, said that filling the posts of the state pollution level is of utmost importance.
“The CPCB is known for taking larger decisions and planning policies, while MPCB like all the state boards is responsible for implementing the policy at the ground level, therefore it’s very necessary for these posts to get filled as delaying them will only aggravate the crisis that we face towards mitigating pollution related woes in the state and country,” said Kesbhat.