LAHORE: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Punjab is facing administrative problems in carrying out its functions as a number of important offices are lying vacant due to lack of staff, Pakistan Today learned on Sunday.
Lack of adequate staff and delay in promotions in EPA has also provided an opportunity to some senior officials to reward additional charges to the junior officers to fill the vacant positions.
At the time when there is a need to redress environmental issues in the province, Punjab government seems reluctant to fill the important offices in EPA as a number of director and deputy director positions are lying vacant, while a number of senior officers are waiting for promotions in the next scale.
Agency is currently running its functions with just two regular directors whereas it requires at least six directors on regular basis. The two permanent directors are Nawaz Manik and Tauqir Qurseshi, holding directorate of Legal and Monitoring Lab & Implementation (ML&I) respectively.
In EPA, considered to be the most important offices of Directorate of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), Directorate of Environment & Dengue Health (EDH), Directorate of Planning & Control (P&C) and other administrative posts have been filled with junior ranked officers by giving them additional charges.
Deputy Director Implementation (IMP) Muhammad Tahir has been rewarded with the additional charge of the Environmental Impact Association (EIA) director, which is one of the most import directorates in the agency. Besides this, Tahir has been given with the other charges of important offices.
The additional charge for the Director Planning and Control (P&C) office has been rewarded to Waseem Ahsan Cheema who is actually deputy director and one of the junior officers. ML&I Deputy Director Nusrat Naz has been rewarded with the senior officials of director EDH.
Like offices of the directors, some assistant directors have been rewarded with the senior officials of deputy directors in EPA. Assistant Director Asim Rehman has been rewarded with the charge of deputy director; Ejaz Majeed, who is assistant director legal department but has been given charge of deputy director.
Sources said that there are many other senior officers in EPA who are still working at the same rank since they were appointed in EPA as they were never given with their due right of routine promotion.
They said that such officers had been victimised by the seniors as they were ignored while giving promotions. “District Officer Environment (DOE) in Hafizabad, Naseem Hanjra was recruited in EPA through Public Service Commission (PCS) in scale 17 some 18 years ago but he is still working in the same scale. Another officer Aneela Inaam was recruited as Research Assistant Lab through (PCS) but she still works in the same rank,” they said and added that besides Tahir and Hanjra, senior deputy director Naseem-ur-Rehman Shah has also not been given promotion in the next scale.
Sources said that this delay in promotion and recruitment of new staff had given an opportunity to many officers and employees to become entrenched in their respective areas. However, they said that a few blue-eyed officers in the agency were able to get promotion in next scale.
Sources further said, “EPA does not only have a shortage of staff but also a number of officials are inefficient as they don’t meet the required qualification. Most of the officials working at important offices are just continuing with the department on experience base.”
EPA spokesman Naseem-ur-Rehman said confirmed that lack of staff was affecting the efficiency of the agency. He said that department has planned to recruit new staff and very soon, the issues regarding lack of staff and promotions would be solved.