Almost 14 lakh tonnes of wood is burned during the brick kilns season across the country which is causing severe threat to the environment and increasing the threat of deforestation.
Burning wood and low quality coal in brick kilns is destroying forests and the environment is being polluted. Pollution caused by brick kilns is affecting agricultural production and fruit production, in addition to causing environmental disasters, and hindering the normal growth of plants.
One of the causes of air pollution in Bangladesh, especially in urban areas, is brick kilns. Dhaka is one of the air polluting cities. There are hundreds of illegal brickfields around Dhaka.
As a result, the environment of the capital Dhaka and its surroundings is being seriously polluted. The suburbs of Dhaka as well as the capital Dhaka are becoming uninhabitable.
Department of Environment (DoE) former additional director general Engineer Md. Abdus Sobahan while talking to Bangladesh Post said, “According to DoE statistics there are 8065 brick kilns in the country, but in our survey the number stood at 10723. Among them, there are 3960 (37 percent) 120-foot permanent chimney based bricks kilns and 750 (7 percent) are drum chimney based bricks kilns.
“A brick kiln with a drum chimney burns on an average 2,000 maunds of wood for 1 lakh bricks. The brick kiln with drum chimney burns an average of 20 lakh bricks per season. It takes 2000 × 20 = 40,000 maunds of wood per brick kiln. At 750 kilns, it takes 11,20,000 tonnes of wood,” he said continuing, “The wood is also burned in a 120-foot chimney based brick kilns. If an average of 2,000 maunds of wood is burned in each kiln, then 3960 kilns burn 2,95,000 tonnes of wood. A total of 14 lakh tonnes of wood is burnt in the brick kiln,” he added.
Rest of the brick kilns use coal which is totally import based. But those coals do not follow the standard also. In a season nearly 89,55,000 tonnes of coal is burnt in those brick kilns. The amount of sulfur is more than five percent in those coals.
According to ‘The Brick Manufacturing and Brick Kilns Establishment (Control) Act, 2013’, it is not legal to use any wood for fuel at brick kilns and the violator would be punished with a three-year jail term or a fine of Tk 3 lakh or both.
Save the Environment Movement chairman Abu Naser suggested that, “The brick kilns with drum chimneys should be identified by DoE and the district administration through field monitoring and those concerned should be brought under the law by closing them immediately. Existing brick kilns with permanent chimneys of 120 feet height which have not yet been converted to advanced technology should also be shut down immediately.”
The brick kiln emits carbon dioxide as well as highly harmful gases like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides. In addition, much particulate matter is also released into the air.
With human breathing, these go deep into the lungs. It also damages the cardiovascular system. In addition to the various respiratory diseases, the number of heart attacks is also increasing at a high rate.
Public health expert Dr. Lenin Chowdhury told Bangladesh Post, “Only for brick kilns around Dhaka city, the air quality is so poor. Due to low air quality the average life expectancy of a person is reduced by five years and at the same time several chronic diseases also increase which reduces the average national productivity. So there is no alternative but to demolish those brick kilns.”
DoE deputy director Mohammad Abdul Motalib said, “from July 2020 to June 2021, 493 mobile courts were conducted where measures against 942 illegal brick kilns were taken. Of these 584 illegal brick kilns have been demolished and fines of Tk 45.51 crore have been collected.”