Environmental monitoring: Facility dormant due to funds shortage | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Environmental monitoring: Facility dormant due to funds shortage

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Climate Change has sought Rs18.8 million for revival of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s central monitoring facility.

EPA Central Laboratory for Environmental Analysis and Networking, which was established with the financial assistance of the government of Japan, has been non-functional since 2010 due to shortage of funds and dearth of technical staff.

The climate change ministry has sent a letter to the finance ministry seeking immediate release of the funds to activate the environmental monitoring systems (EMS).

The EMS project was launched with the support of the JICA in 2007, with an aim to establish the basis for a nationwide analysis of environmental pollution and to enhance technical capacity of watchdogs.

The facility consisted of a main lab, an air and water lab, a data centre and a micro-biological lab with equipment capable of testing industrial and municipal waste and air pollution.

The equipment has been rusting away at the EPA’s head office and the provincial stations. It has not been used ever since the devolution of the ministry of environment to provinces in 2010.

EPA Deputy Director Laboratories Farzana Altaf told The Express Tribune that the EMS needed calibration after every two weeks and millions of rupees were required to reactivate the system. She said last year the EPA submitted a proposal to the Planning Commission for allocation of Rs18 million to make the system functional but to no avail.

“Laboratories have stopped functioning and expensive chemicals have expired due to non-availability of funds and inattention,” she said.

The project was completed at a cost of Rs713.3705 million. Atomic absorption spectrometer (AAS), high performance liquid chromatography, gas chromatography — which cost millions of rupees — have turned inoperative due to non-use.

EPA has also not trained workforce to run all these equipment and other laboratory operations. Only four member staff is available with the agency including a lab director, deputy director, a lab inspector and a lab assistant. When this project was started, around 26 staff members were hired on contract basis and were laid off when the project was completed.

Express Tribune