LAHORE: Doubting Environmental Protection Department’s (EPD) seriousness to tackle increasing environmental challenges, the invitees to the second meeting of the Punjab Environmental Protection Council (PEPC) lamented that the body was not following the procedural protocols to hold meetings.
A number of invitees expressed concerns over the procedure that EPD had adopted for holding meetings while ignoring the convenience of participants.
The PEPC became the part of PEPA 1997 in 2012 to coordinate and supervise enforcement of the provisions of the act under the chairmanship of the Punjab CM (or any other person as nominated by the CM). Environment minister serves as the vice chairman while EPD secretary is the secretary of this council. According to the Subsection 4 of Section 3 of the act, it is required that “no less than two meetings of the council shall be held in a year.” But department could manage to hold just one meeting on March 18 last year which was also the first meeting of the PEPC.
The PEPC adopted the National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS) as Punjab Environmental Quality Standards (PEQS) while it took several other decisions.
However, despite the passing of more than one and half years, EPD failed to promulgate decision regarding the meetings.
Sources in EPD told this scribe that the department could not exercise the decisions as there had been conflictions among officials regarding the procedures. They said that during the first meeting, the EPD was asked to take suitable measures to cope with the challenges related to the environment but it continued to indulge in internal politics. “The seriousness of the department can be seen by how it could not fill the post of EPA’s director general which was vacant for months,” they added.
One of the invitee for today’s meeting told Pakistan Today that he was invited just on a short notice of two days and it was very hard to attend the meeting in person. He said that the department should adopt strict measures to cope with the issues seriously but is still reluctant to do so.
When contacted, EPD’s spokesman Naseem ur Rehman, said that he was also informed regarding the meeting a couple of days ago and he refused to further comment.
On the other hand, reconstitution of PEPC, draft amendment in the PEPA 1997, Punjab Environmental Approval Rules 2917, Environmental Protection Regulations 2017, Administrative Penalty Rules, Restructuring of EPD/EPA and Prevention of Smog Policy would be among agenda items for today’s meeting.