Faridpur, Jan 12 (UNB) – The once verdant banks of Madhumati River, separating Faridpur’s Boalmari Upazila from Magura’s Mohammadpur, are now blighted by illegal brick factories thriving on a growing demand for the construction material.
The brick kilns, mostly sprung up on agricultural land, are burning trees, use topsoil from arable land and soil from the river banks to make bricks. For chimneys, they use the ones either made from corrugated iron sheets or tin drums.
Locals say the brick factories are destroying the environment, agricultural land and woods as the local administrations of the two neighbouring districts are giving a blind eye to the problem.
During a visit last week, the UNB correspondent saw two brick kilns on cropland in Ruijani mouza and one in Jangalia mouza under Mohammadpur upazila. Workers were busy burning bricks while construction of a number of other kilns was underway.
Peppering the river banks, these brick factories are burning tons of firewood every day, causing air pollution and health hazards.
Shyamal Kumar Saha, vice-president of Faridpur District Brick Kiln Owners’ Association, said they are facing losses since the illegal factories selling bricks at lower prices.
The Brick Manufacturing and Brick Kilns Establishment (Control) Act 2013 prohibits operating brick kilns without licenses. It also forbids using soil from cropland and hills for making bricks. One must secure permission for sourcing soil from canals, ponds, river banks or char areas.
Besides, brick kilns need to have environment-friendly long chimneys with heights between 120-130 feet and are permitted to use coal for fire.
Zafar Molla, owner of STC Bricks, defended using chimneys made from tin, saying setting up auto-kilns costs a lot of money. Minhajul Islam, an owner of ‘Nadi Bricks’, said they will follow rules and make environment-friendly brick factories “in the future.”
Shariful Islam, a partner of Sharif Bricks, said he will secure a licence and environmental clearance for his factory “soon,” but did not exactly said when.
Deputy Commissioner of Faridpur Umme Salma Tanzia said the administration had informed the brick kiln owners about the government’s order. “We’ll go tough on any activity that harms the environment,” she said.
About the illegal brick factories, the DC said: “We’ll coordinate with Magura district administration and take concerted steps to check air pollution.”