APPCB Fails to Check Pollution in Vizag, Officials Say Regional Branch Under-Staffed

By :  Aruna
Update: 2023-11-24 17:43 GMT

VISHAKHAPATNAM: The Pollution Control Board here is unable to check the rising levels of pollution in the port and steel city and in the surrounding regions. The reason is, “We have only five staff.”

Reports like "Visakhapatnam exceeds the permissible limits set by both the WHO and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards in terms of two key atmospheric air quality parameters, particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) and particulate matter 10 (PM10)" do not open the eyes of the powers-that-be.

The APPCB Vizag branch's regional office has an environmental engineer, two assistant environmental engineers, a junior assistant in the administration department, and another staff. Controlling pollution in Visakhapatnam and Anakapalle district is their job.

When Deccan Chronicle spoke to PCB Vizag branch environmental engineer Nagi Reddy, he said, “We are understaffed. We are working till 10.30pm. We shall recruit new staff through APPSC.”

Their workload should be heavy. Visakhapatnam has seven large-scale industries. The Hindustan Shipyard, which builds and repairs ships; the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation that refines and distributes petroleum products, the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd, which makes steel out of iron ore, the NTPC that runs the Simhadri thermal power project, the Bharat heavy plate and vessels ltd that manufactures heavy engineering equipment, the National mineral development corporation that mines iron ore, the Ferro scrap nigam ltd that recovers scrap from steel plants. All these seven industries emit lots of atmospheric and other pollutants.

Anakapalle district’s Atchutapuram mandal has several industries that contribute to the region’s growth as well as the pollution bulge. Here, the industries span the fields of metallurgy, chemicals, petrochemicals, textiles, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment manufacturing, electronics units, and aerospace ventures. Vigorous pollution checks are needed. But, APPCB Vizag branch is “handicapped” by “staff shortage.”

In specific, the regional office “doesn’t have staff to do pollution control checks in industrial areas of both districts.” This, indirectly, allows a free-for-all.

The Vizag PCB laboratory depends on outsourced field staff for collecting samples. One laboratory junior scientific officer told Deccan Chronicle, “Many sample collectors are politically recommended candidates who don’t know how to do their work.” This adds to the overall deficiency.

The PCB branch has a well-equipped laboratory under the zonal office. It has to work on samples that are collected from five (old) districts. In this laboratory too, there is “staff scarcity.” There are only five permanent employees. These five employees have to handle samples collected from Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and the combined Visakhapatnam and the Godavari district.

In this laboratory senior environmental scientist Ravi works as HOD. Under him are four junior scientific officers.

In the AP Pollution Control Board, there are a total of 85 employees. The technical department has 52 engineers. The Scientific department has 16 employees. These are apart from 10 staff in the administration, six office subordinates and a record assistant.

There has been no recruitment for the last 15 years. "After the state bifurcation, Telangana state has recruited employees for its pollution board twice. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board started with 17 employees but now has 597 employees and functions in all districts of the state," say the PCB officials here.


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