Illegal brick kilns harming croplands in Kishoreganj

Published : 09 Feb 2023 08:14 PM

In Kishoreganj district, brick kiln activities adjacent to crop land and educational institutions are going on without government approval. The toxic black smoke, gas and dust of these brick kilns are causing people to suffer from various diseases including respiratory problems. Children and the elderly are especially at risk. Thousands of children of workers working in various brick kilns are at risk. On the other hand, the administration carried out the raids and imposed nominal fines on some of the illegal brick kilns. However, the district administration says that regular raids are being carried out on bricklayers who do not obey the law and are being fined.

Going to different Upazilas, it can be seen that the work of making and burning bricks is going on day and night in illegal kilns in defiance of the order of the High Court. In addition to low quality coal, these kilns are using wood powder which is harmful to the environment. Apart from air pollution, cropland is also being damaged. Besides, they are making bricks by bringing the topsoil of the cropland. Brickyard owners do not care about approval. Besides, any registered and unregistered brick kilns are not following the Brick Making and Kiln Installation Control Act properly. The brickyard owners have various excuses for keeping the brickyard open. However, the local residents have called on the administration to be more strict about brick kilns.

According to sources, despite the prohibition in the Brick Making and Kiln Installation Control Act (2013), most of the kilns have been installed in localities i.e. people's homesteads, villages, towns, very close to the city, agricultural land. The use of arable land in brick kilns is completely prohibited by law. Out of 109 brick kilns in 13 Upazilas of Kishoreganj, 37 unregistered/illegal brick kilns are manufacturing and marketing bricks. Among them, there are 4 unregistered/illegal brick kilns in Sadar Upazila, 9 in Pakundia Upazila, 7 in Bajitpur, 4 in Katiadi, 6 in Ashtagram Upazila, 3 in Hossainpur, 2 in Mithamin, 1 in Itna and 1 in Karimganj. Meanwhile, two brick kilns named M/s Jonaki Bricks and M/s Ata Bricks of Ashtagram Upazila have been closed in the list of the Department of Environment, but brick making is going on in front of everyone, disobeying government orders. And 16 brick kilns do not have Custom Excise and VAT license.

Jaher Mia, the director of Ata Bricks of Ashtagram Upazila, refused to talk claiming himself as the manager. He said, the owner will talk.

Monir Mia, manager of M/s Jonaki Bricks of Ashtagram Upazila, said, "We had a license and a clearance from the Department of Environment. But as we could not renew the license we went to legal process. I have gone through the legal process, so I am continuing to decline.

District Environment Protection Movement President Principal Rabindranath Chowdhury said that the district administration and environment directorate should play an active role in stopping illegal brick kilns. Otherwise it will be a violation of the order of the High Court.

Nikoli Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer Sajib Ghosh said, the toxic black smoke of brick kiln can cause various diseases including asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, allergy, cancer. Children have low immunity, they are more prone to these diseases.

Rubaiyat Tahrim Sourav, Senior Chemist of Kishoreganj Environment Department, said that legal action will be taken against illegal brick kilns in coordination with the district administration.

Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam Azad said regular raids are going on and fines are being imposed on bricklayers who do not obey the law. 

A fine of Tk 3 lakh was also imposed last month.