Air pollution analysis: Lab dysfunctional for past six years

Top EPA official asks who would subscribe to data even if released; funding allocation for revival lapses


Shahzad Anwar July 08, 2016
The lab has only had four staffers — a lab director and deputy director, an inspector and an assistant. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD: The country’s central lab for sampling and analysis of air pollution in Islamabad has been dysfunctional for the last six years, while a special grant of Rs18 million allocated for the lab’s revival in January lapsed in June 2016.

The Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Central Laboratory for Environmental Analysis (CLEAN), completed in 2007 at a cost of Rs713.3705 million with the help of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), has not been operational since 2010.

On a request made by the Ministry of Climate Change in January, the finance ministry released Rs18 million to revitalise the lab, but the lax attitude of the EPA and climate ministry officials let the allocated sum lapse.

The facility, which aims to establish a basis for a nationwide analysis of environmental pollution, and to enhance technical capacity of environmental watchdog, consists of a main lab, an air and water lab, a stake emission data centre and a micro-biological lab with equipment capable of testing industrial and municipal waste as well as air pollution.

Equipment bought for the facility and sub-facilities has been gathering dust at the EPA’s head office and provincial stations.

The equipment has not been used since the Ministry of Environment was devolved to the provinces in 2010.

On May 30, Climate Change Secretary Syed Abu Ahmed Akif and EPA officials had claimed that the lab would be made functional within one week.

When asked about the delays, Akif blamed an equipment supplier for the inordinate delay, saying the supplier was not following procedural requirements for payment of cash.

“They are demanding Rs18 million in advance without furnishing a bank guarantee against the payment,” Akif claimed.

The official said that the ministry would either approach Jica for providing new equipment or take its help to ask the local supplier to relax its practice for calibration of the environmental monitoring system (EMS).

The secretary also offered an odd observation on the system, asking, “Who would subscribe to the data even if we collect and release it.”

“Without a comprehensive usage system, data generation is useless,” he added.

The secretary suggested that the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration and the Capital Development Authority should be taken on board for data usage.

He said that the ministry had written to the finance minister to carry forward the lapsed grant from last year.

Sources said that the EPA also lacked trained staff to run lab operations.

The lab has only had four staffers — a lab director and deputy director, an inspector and an assistant.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2016.

 

COMMENTS (1)

Whatacountry | 6 years ago | Reply This is the combined effort of Zardari and Nawaz. Dysfunctional Lab for six years!!!
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