Violating various government rules and regulations, illegal brick kilns continue to sprout in the districts adjacent to the capital casting hazardous impacts on the environment and people.
On November 26, 2019 the High Court ordered the authorities concerned to shut down all the illegal brick kilns in Dhaka and its surrounding areas -- Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Gazipur and Manikganj -- within 15 days to reduce air pollution in the capital city.
Following the HC order, most of the illegal brick kilns were shut in the area covered by Dhaka’s two city corporations but their owners were at the same time moving the court to obtain legal sanctions to restart their businesses.
Crossing the borders of the two Dhaka city corporations, frequent mobile courts have been busy shutting down many of the illegal brick kilns but they manage to return within two or three days of such closure, said locals.
Citing the findings of a World Bank study, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin recently stated the brick kilns located in Dhaka city and its surrounding areas are responsible for 58 percent of its air pollution.
The increasing use of firewood collected by felling trees causes severe deforestation while the toxic emissions produced during the process of baking brick poses acute health risks to inhabitants, including school-going children.
Although the Environment Department only permits brick kilns on condition of not burning wood, the owners of such kilns in Kaliakoir, Kapasia and Sreepur upazilas do not seem to pay any heed to such restrictions.
Workers of some brick kilns said there are some kilns that burn a minimum of 10 tonnes of wood each day.
Villagers adjacent to the brick kilns suffer from great losses of paddy and grains due to the terrible environmental pollution.
Dark smoke, ash, brick powder and dust of kiln fill the airs of cities and villages violating the ecological balance and causing extinction of many rare species of plants and animals.
Besides, many insatiable kiln owners have stretched the area of their brick kilns to residential regions and schools. When the whole world is fighting against all kinds of pollution, the insensitivity of local district officials frustrates the locals.
After the High Court ban, some mobile courts were breaking down many brick kilns while in some cases they are only fined and those eventually get up and run again after some days.
Magistrates of the Environment Department in most cases fine Tk 5 lakh while kiln owners promptly restart their business a few days after paying the money.
Besides, some areas seemingly fall outside the authorities’ view. The Environment Department is yet to conduct drives in different places of Kapasia, even as many other areas of the district witnessed their second round of raids.
Deputy Director of Environment Department Abdus Salam said they are conducting drives against illegal brick kilns on a regular basis.
“No illegal kiln owners will be spared and our mobile courts operation will continue,” he said.