In what could be seen as an example of administrative inertia, the Forestry ministry is sitting over the re-constitution of the Jammu & Kashmir State Pollution Control Board, affecting critical environmental policy decisions.
(PCB) is legally “non-existent” for the past seven months which has taken a toll on its policy-making.
“Under the law, the Pollution Control Board is being constituted from time to time for a period of three years each. It was last time constituted on September 2, 2014,” the official said, adding that its term ended on September 1, 2017. “Since then the government has failed to re-constitute the Board. This shows non-seriousness of the Forest Ministry towards the vital body.”
The official said that the government’s “indecisiveness” has affected functioning of the Board. “There is stalemate at policy level, administration level and on financial front as all major decisions are taken or approved by the Board only,” he said.
“The High Court has virtually struck down the new polythene law, SRO 45 of 2017, of present government – that allowed manufacture and sale of polythene bags above 50 microns in thickness – by directing the government not to implement it. There is no direction from the top on this critical issue,” the official said.
He said financial powers of the Board have been restricted by the Finance department as the budget, previous expenditure, etc. has to be approved by the Board of Directors.
“This has caused financial distress in the Board and consequently affecting all its major activities. There are other issues which await constitution of the Board and thereafter its decisions/approval on the matters,“ he said.
A senior bureaucrat, preferring not to be named, said decision-making has become casualty in the present dispensation.
“It will take less than one hour for the government to reconstitute the Board. They just have to issue a notification under section 4 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974,” he said.
When contacted, commissioner secretary Forests, Sourabh Baghat, said he would look into the matter.
Member secretary, J&K State Pollution Control Board, Sameer Bharati, said the Board is being constituted shortly.