A group of concerned citizens has appealed to the State government to put in place a transparent process, including calling for applications, in the selection of the Member-Secretary and Chairperson to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).

Drawing the attention of the government to a report published in The Hindu (Political meddling proves toxic for pollution control boards, July 21), the group felt that though Tamil Nadu had not plummeted to the depths to which States like Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh had fallen, there should be no room for complacency as the State was gearing for more industrialisation.

On the appointment of Malleshappa, an IFS officer, as Member-Secretary, TNPCB, the group pointed to a circular sent to all Chief Secretaries by a Supreme Court Monitoring Committee that discouraged the appointment of IFS, IAS and officers from public health engineering background as Member-Secretary or Chairperson of pollution control boards.

With due respect to Dr. Malleshappa, the statement argued that the issue of industrial pollution was better dealt with by people with academic training and experience in disciplines such as environmental engineering. It hoped that the appointment was only a stop-gap arrangement and offered its support to any steps the government intended to take to ensure that political considerations and favouritism were eliminated in the selection of candidates for important posts in the TNPCB.

The appeal, sent to the Chief Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary, Environment and Forests, has been signed by Claude Alvares of Goa Foundation and former Member of Supreme Court Monitoring Committee; S. P. Ambrose, M. G. Devasahayam and Louis Menezes, former IAS officers; T. Swaminathan, former Professor, IIT-Madras, and Nityanand Jayaraman, writer.

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