Shortfall in sample collection because of RTI overload : MPCB
While conducting the latest audit of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), the Auditor General found that the specific norms fixed by the MPCB for the collection of samples by each field officer in its Sub Regional Offices (SRO) had been grossly violated.
The 1999 circular of the MPCB requires every field officer to collect 40 samples per month. The breakup of the 40 samples required to be collected was as under – 20 Joint Vigilance Samples to be collected in five days on field, 13 samples of air emission to be collected in three day on field and 7 Environmental sampling for two days.
During the audit it was found that the Mumbai office collected 3,417 samples, Sub Regional Officer, Pune collected 1,394 samples, SRO, Pimpri-Chinchwad collected 532 samples, SRO, Satara collected 348 samples while SRO, Solapur collected only 202 samples.
In hazardous waste sampling, SRO, Solapur didn’t collect even a single sample where it was required to collect a minimum of 60 samples.
The reply of MPCB to the Auditor General, accessed through the exercise of Right to Information (RTI) Act, stated that the shortfall in collecting sufficient samples to check pollution levels was because of extra work generated due to RTI Act. It states that complaint investigations, upgradation and maintenance of office record, etc have hampered the sampling task. The Auditor General has rejected the Board’s reply saying that almost 29% more officers were employed by the board for sample collection task.