by Saifullah Bashir
Srinagar: After Kashmir based environmental stakeholders along with government bodies have been left out of the newly constituted Pollution Control Committee, the environmentalists are expressing concern while mulling to take the matter to the court.
A gazette notification issued on 25th March 2021, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) constituted a committee that has 14 members including a Chairperson and a Member Secretary. However, there is no Governmental or Non-Governmental member from Kashmir these 14.
The J&K Pollution Control Committee (JKPCC) members include Administrative Secretaries of Industries, Housing and Urban Development; Health & Medical Education; Transport Departments and Additional Secretary Forest and Environment is also a member of the committee.
There is a post of a Chairman who is likely to be the Administrative Secretary Forest, Ecology and Environment Department.
Other members of J&K PCC include Commissioner Jammu Municipal Corporation, Medical Superintendent Government Medical College Jammu, Regional Officer Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change Government of India, Dr Pankaj Chandan Director Nature, Wildlife and Climate Change an NGO based in Jammu, Professor Anil Raina Department of Environmental Science Jammu University, Member Secretary Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) or his / her nominee, MD Small Industrial Corporation and Member Secretary J&K Pollution Control Committee.
Raja Muzaffar, an Acumen Fellow, and Anant Fellow for Climate Action, “There are apprehensions that JKPCC on the orders of Central, Pollution Control Board may give no objection certificate (NOC) for setting up of industrial units and that will be set up in the valley in the years to come. If that is the plan it will only cause disaster in J&K,”
“There should have been members from Wular Conservative and Management Authority, Environmental Engineering Department, Earth Science Department and other NGOs.”
Raja said, “When there can be members of GMC Jammu and others, why cannot Kashmiris be part of it?”
Meanwhile, senior environmental activist and lawyer Nadeem Qadri is mulling to take the matter to court.
“We will see an onslaught now. It is astonishing that in the 14 member committee none is Kashmiri. Pollution Control Board is gone and now for a consent to operate one need to move to Chandigarh,” he said.
“JKPSCB lost the mandate to operate under the new statutory provisions and that is why CPCB constituted these committees at UT level. As far as these 14 members are concerned it should have been balanced. Srinagar Municipal Corporation, which is a statutory body, has been ignored,” Qadri said.
He said they are trying to find out if there is any legal remedy so that they can challenge this order and seek the incorporation of statutory bodies into this committee.
Communist Party of India (M) leader and former lawmaker Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami termed the move as “shocking”.
A statement issued by CPI (M) said that if people in the region perceive such decisions as a reflection of the discriminatory mindset that was justified.