THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In yet another instance of alleged favouritism in a department under the Chief Minister, several eligible candidates have reportedly been excluded in an opaque manner from the selection process for the chairperson of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (PCB).While over 18 persons had applied for the post, around eight have been shortlisted for the interview slated for August 8.
However, sources privy to the shortlisting process said some of the candidates who made it to the list did not fulfill the criteria set by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
“After the excluded candidates raised complaints, the Chief Minister and his office came to know about the selection process,” said a source. “This was done by bureaucrats who are taking advantage of the fact that everyone’s attention is currently focused on Covid-19.” The committee comprising Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta and Principal Secretary of Department of Environment Usha Titus will make the final selection.
As per the NGT court order, the minimum qualification required for the position is a specialisation in Environmental Science, Technology, or Engineering, with 15 years of practical and administrative experience. The age limit was fixed at 60 years. The court intervention was made after it was found that persons including bureaucrats and politicians with no technical background were being selected for the post.
The applications of two retired chief engineers of the PCB with more than 32 years of experience and one chief engineer still in service with 28 years of experience were eliminated without valid reasons or intimation.
At the same time, a person with just 12 years of experience and another who voluntarily retired from the PCB three years before his retirement were shortlisted, much to the chagrin of the seasoned employees. Interestingly, some of the applicants shortlisted were eliminated in the previous selection process held in 2019, when all applicants were interviewed for the post.
The post of the Kerala State PCB chairperson has been lying vacant since February 2020, after Ajit Haridas was forced to resign for angering the CPM leadership by issuing a fine to the party-led Thiruvananthapuram corporation. Usha Titus could not be reached for comments.