The Punjab government has framed rules for the environmental tribunal, following the devolution of green issues to the provinces and the passing of the Punjab Environmental Protection Act of 2012.
The tribunal had been dormant since June 2011 and has over 1,700 cases pending. The tribunal is forwarded cases of polluting industries by the Environmental Protection Department and decides their penalties.
The new rules governing the tribunal are largely similar to the rules framed in 1999 under the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act of 1997, which now stands defunct.
Two changes have been made regarding the tribunal members. Under Clause 4(2), the technical member on the three-member tribunal must have 17 years of experience after their BSc degrees. Previously, the technical member was required to have 10 years of experience.
EPA secretary Saeed Iqbal Wahla, who was involved in drafting the new rules, said that the technical member was required to provide insight into the scientific aspects of pollution cases and assist the tribunal chair in coming to a decision.
Clause 5(4) of the rules state that the government will decide the salary of the tribunal chair. Previously, the chairman’s salary and perks were equal to those of a High Court judge.
Wahla said that the salary of an LHC judge was too high for the post of tribunal chair. He said that the new chairman would be paid more than his previous job, but not as much as an LHC judge.
The secretary said that a request had been sent to the Finance Department for a separate budget for the tribunal. The appointment of the three new tribunal members has not been formally notified yet.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2012.