EPA’s pollution monitoring system dysfunctional


Online pollution monitoring system of Environment Protection Agency (EPA), responsible for monitoring air pollution of the capital, has become dysfunctional due to non-release of funds after the devolution of the Environment Ministry while machinery worth millions of rupees is lying unutilised.
An official in EPA told Pakistan Today that the machinery installed for the programme with the collaboration of Japan had become dysfunctional several months ago, so they had not conducted air quality monitoring of the capital city.
The state-of-the-art system to monitor environmental pollution is no more showing any results as the last air quality index was released a month ago for lack of funds is hampering maintenance of the system. The official data shows that the last air quality index was released on August 8, 2011, after which Environmental Protection Agency was not able to do so because the funds required for the purpose were not available.
The official said that after the devolution of the Environment Ministry, the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) refused to own the Environment Monitoring System (SMS) and released no funds.
He said, “JICA and other donors offered us if Pakistan succeeds in running this monitoring project in all five stations – each in the provinces and the federal level – they would provide financial assistance to install such pollution monitoring systems at district level.”
He lamented, “Unfortunately, this project faced a problem at the federal level and we will not get funds from donors for other projects.”
He said laboratories had also stopped working for lack of funds while it had become difficult to even pay monthly salaries to the staff and clear bills of petrol and diesel. It is worth mentioning that the Ministry of Environment had signed an agreement with JICA to develop a system to monitor environmental pollution of Rs 1.2 billion under which JICA had not only agreed to provide funds but also impart training to the officials of the ministry.
The agreement aimed at strengthening the technical capacities of EPA for effective environmental monitoring of air and water and formation of monitoring plans, analysis and quality.
The EPA established Central Laboratory for Environmental Analysis (CLEAN) on its premises in Islamabad, which consisted of three sections, including analytical, field measurement and sampling. CLEAN was equipped with modern computerised analytical equipment, having facilities for analyzing pollutants in air, water and soil besides toxicity levels in foodstuffs and other products. When contacted, Central Laboratory for Environmental Analysis (CLEAN) in charge Zaigham Abbas told Pakistan Today, “Due to non-release of funds after devolution of the Ministry of Environment, the latest machinery had become dysfunctional as no funds were available for maintenance or for salaries of the staff.” He said as soon as they got the funds, they would start working and issue the air quality index of Islamabad.