Fear of harassment leaves KSPCB officials incapacitated

Board takes no action against environmental offenders

Recent instances of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board’s (KSPCB) alleged inaction against those who were involved in the garbage incineration in the City are seemingly indicators of the powerlessness of the board.

Although the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Government of Karnataka have vested the KSPCB with such powers, the board has not been taking action against erring officials, industries, organisations or departments for violating environmental laws.

This inaction by officials is said to be the result of fear of being transferred or harassed by higher authorities with political connections.

According to a senior KSPCB officer, “If the KSPCB went by the book, cases can be booked against as many as 210 government officials in the State, most of them from Bangalore.
“The board will also have to book cases against departments like the BWSSB for providing inadequate number of sewage treatment plants, the transport department for not keeping a check on noise pollution, the BBMP for garbage menace, polluting lakes, food adulteration and the BDA for shoddy maintenance of infrastructure.”

‘Transfers during inquiry’

The officer said the board does issue orders upon receiving complaints.
“The department concerned or officials are summoned to appear before the board to prove their case. The heads of departments or commissioners are transferred in quick succession, especially during inquiries.

“Many cases are left unresolved because of this reason. There have been many such instances in the past,” the officer added.

Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee, who spoke to Deccan Herald about the powers of KSPCB, said: “They have enough authority vested with them. However, they must find a way to exercise them. There is no obstruction from anybody and we will support them.
“If an individual or organisation is found to be at fault, they can be checked. But we cannot impose a blanket rule to shut them all down. The law, however, is uniform and no leniency will be shown if it is violated.”

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