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PESHAWAR: A lingering dispute between transport and environment departments over the ownership of Vehicle Emission Testing Station has deprived its staff of salaries for the last one year.

“Employees have suffered due to a dispute between the two departments. They have been waiting for their salaries for the last one year,” said one of the affected workers. Around 40 employees are currently working at the station equipped with three mobile units.

Sources said that the dispute surfaced when transport department took over the station in 2009. Earlier, the environment department was custodian of the station functioning at a rented building on GT Road in Chamkani.

Sources said that environment department took over the station again in 2015 on the ground that air pollution was not subject of the transport department. The issue was referred to the provincial law department to resolve it.

Summary about dispute between transport, environment depts stuck up in establishment dept

According to officials, law department made a decision in favour of transport department and issued a final summary in this regard. Now the summary was stuck up in the establishment department, they said.

The VETS facility was established with the financial and technical assistance of German government in 1997 to control hazardous vehicular emission that rapidly polluted air of the provincial capital. Initially Environmental Protection Agency was operating the station.

The objectives of VETS were reduction of harmful emissions, better fuel/engine efficiency, reduced maintenance requirements, and to test and identify vehicles, which were violating the notified National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS). Unfitted vehicles are supposed to be fined and VETS issues fitness certificate to the vehicles.

The German government through its aid agency (GTZ) handed over three mobile units and trained staff to EPA to check vehicular emission. Instead of enhancing capacity of the station to cope with increasing air pollution, its performance deteriorated. The government had sanctioned 70 posts for the station, but only 40 employees had been appointed, so far.

The existing staff is waiting for regularisation. Due to rapid increase in the population of vehicles especially unfitted vehicles, the level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has exceeded limits of NEQS.

An official said that current capacity of the station was to check 40 to 50 vehicles on daily basis. He said that the government neither provided staff nor filled the sanctioned posts. He said that one additional mobile unit had been purchased to check vehicles inside the city, but staff had not been provided.

The official said that VETS staff had not been able to check vehicles inside the city for the last two years. He said that rickshaws and other light vehicles were running on the streets in the city and they could not move mobile stations to congested areas.

“Two stroke rickshaws, motorcycles and other light vehicles are main polluters, but VETS has no access to congested areas of the city,” said the official. He said that another impediment was that VETS could not go to the field without traffic police. He added that unfitted vehicles were fined with the help of police.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2017