EPA DG – Who needs experts when you’ve got bureaucrats?


The Islamabad Expressway Expansion Project is set to hit snags as higher ups from the DMG group want to capture the technical post of director-general of Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA).

Pak-EPA is a subordinate department of the Ministry Of Climate Change which provides technical advice to the ministry over climate hazards. However, it is amazing to note that the top post of the Pak-EPA is lying vacant and non-technical bureaucrats are making efforts to get their retired colleagues from the DMG group appointed as EPA DG, a post allocated only to an expert on environment issues.

Moreover, the resignation by Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan would further delay the appointment of Pak-EPA. Mr Khan is highly admired by the officers of the EPA but his exit has allowed the DMG group officers to capture the technical post of EPA DG.

It is pertinent to mention here that Pak-EPA has already declared that the Islamabad Expressway Expansion project is in breach of environmental laws as it is designed in violation of the Section 12 of the Environmental Protection Act 1997.

According to the Section 12, the construction of small or large scale schemes cannot commence unless developers submit an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report with the Pak-EPA. The EIA examines the environmental risks and benefits associated with development projects. This report is essential to the approval of a project by environment regulators.

Sources in the ministry have informed Pakistan Today that due to the indecision shown by the minister, the post has become controversial and has created an internal rift among the senior officers of the department.

It must be noted that the post for EPA DG has been lying vacant after the appointment former DG Dr Khurshed Ahmed as South Asia Cooperative Environment DG.

A source told Pakistan Today that the most senior officer Ziauddin Khattak was ignored a week ago when climate change ministry sent a summary to the Prime Minister House wherein the name of Mr Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta, the former Secretary of Environment Minister had been proposed for appointment as EPA DG on contractual basis after his retirement.

However, the summary was rejected by the prime minister.

Khattak, after being ignored by the ministry despite being the senior-most officer of the EPA, moved the court and filed a petition against the ministry in the Islamabad High Court. In his petition, Khattak claimed that he had been working in the EPA as the National Environmental Quality Standard Director.

According to the source four more employees, who are also working in the department on a contractual basis, are lobbying to get appointed on the post.

According to the source, a female officer who was National Environmental Quality Standard deputy director was also candidate for the DG’s slot.  However, one of the employees told Pakistan Today that instead of working in the laboratory, she was working in the minister’s office.  He added that when a notice was issued to her on her absence, she did not reply to her parent department.

According to the source, the officers who were in the race to become DG were appointed on a contract basis for a project in year 2009 and a reference was also filed against them in the federal public service commission the same year.

As per Supreme Court order, they neither fall in the seniority list nor claimed for promotion.

According to source Ziauddin Khattak was interviewed for the post of the DG and PM office also issued a summary to appoint him as DG-EPA. The source added the Secretary of Climate Change ministry was also advised to move a summary to the PM House in this regard.

According to source, rather than sending a summary for Khattak, the Secretary Ministry Of Climate Change, Arif Ahmed Khan, moved a summary to the PM House, proposing the appointment of former secretary Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta as the new DG, which was rejected by the PM House.

Later, the secretary proposed that Joint Secretary Climate Change Ministry, Aftab Ahmed Maneka, be given additional charge of DG. The PM house rejected this nomination as well since both Bhutta and Maneka have no technical knowledge of the EPA. The PM House rather advised the ministry to nominate the senior-most officer in the department as a DG.

Unfortunately, the matter continues to be delayed.