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All brick kilns in Anantnag ‘illegal’: Despite PCB raising red flag nine months ago, official sleep over ecological disaster in making

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By Sameer Ahmad

Anantnag: In January this year government issued closure orders to 16 brick kilns in district Anantnag and the remaining of 53 manufacturing units have been working without ‘mandatory consent’ since. Despite knowing that orders have been ignored authorities are sleeping over the ecological disaster.

State pollution control board on January 13 this year ordered closure of 16 brick kilns, majority of whom are running from cultivation areas, but the orders were not followed. Then in March again the board issued orders to close the units down immediately within  three days. However the brick kilns are operating since, even after passing of eight months.

 

“Is this Banjar e Qadeem, or will this brick kiln turn the land into banjar. See the green trees around it,” asks an official in PCB, who furnished INS these pictures

The PCB in its official communication to Deputy commissioner has asked him to close down 16 brick kilns for functioning without mandatory consent and were ‘bereft of adequate PCDs/PCMs’.

In March DC Anantnag constituted a team of Tehsildar Anantnag, Mattan and Qazigund, District Mineral officer Anantnag and District officer PCB to close down the fraudsters.

“All the team members are directed to ensure the closure of 16 brick kilns within three days and report action taken to this office accordingly,” reads the order, while urging SSP Anantnag, Kulgam to provide assistance in the closure.

“All the brick kilns are still working. No action has been taken and the grape vine is that people have been bribed to stay quite,” an insider at the PCB claimed.

Official sources told INS that most of the brick kilns are operating in the district without following the rules and regulations as laid down in the brick kiln Act 2009.

“The rules are being brazenly violated. We are sleeping over a ticking ecological disaster in this district,” PCB official complained.

“License of majority of them has already expired and they have not approached any authority to renew it,” a top official in pollution control board said.

The PCB top official expressed helplessness as the imposing authorities have not ‘coerced the official orders’.

“Environment is being brazenly attacked and none feels the shame that ecological balance will be tarnished,” he rued.

According to the PCB official brick kilns emit toxic fumes containing suspended particulate matters rich in carbon particles and high concentration of carbon monoxides and oxides of sulphur (SOx) that are harmful to eye, lungs and throat.

“The primary source of SOx , the major pollutants in the air, is traffic vehicles, followed by brick manufacturing industry. And the primary source of NOx (nitrogen oxides) pollutants is also traffic vehicle and brick manufacturing industry,” he said while quoting country level data.

“The burning of coal in the brick kilns releases several air pollutants in large quantity. Carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, are among the air pollutants. The people and living organisms around these brick kilns are prone to serious diseases like chest disease,” said Rao Farman Ali, an environment expert.

Accordign to Ali black smoke from these units, the pollinating species of birds and insects move away from the areas near brick kilns, which adversely affects agriculture and fruit production. The carbon dust emitted in the black smoke destroys the fertility of flowers, preventing them from turning into fruits.

“Covering of environment which is a component of climate change, kilns in Kashmir are a major contributor in areas where we have only appox 16000 sqkm’s land. It impacts on Glaciers result flash floods,” Ali said.

Environment expert further said that nature controls the environment through its pest control mechanism. The carbon dust destroys the biodiversity and the quality (fertility) of the soil declines, which leads to a collapse in agriculture.

Sources confided to INS that while the brick kilns are required to apply for environment clearance before the District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA) headed by the respective Deputy Commissioners.

“None from the district anantnag has approached for the same,” he said.

Children working in one of the brick kilns in Anantnag

Under the Jammu and Kashmir Brick Kilns Regulation Act 2010, a set of rules were framed to regulate and issue licenses for the functioning of Brick Kilns. As per the Act, Brick Kiln cannot be established on agricultural land. All the brick kilns can only be established on Banjri Kadim land identified by the Revenue Department. Furthermore NOCs has to be obtained from the forest, agriculture, PWD, legal metrology, health, pollution control board, education and concerned Deputy Commissioner.

District Officer Pollution control Board Anantnag Nisar Ahmad said that they have sent repeated reminders to the district authorities to ensure that the rules regarding protection of environment and pollution control are strictly enforced.

“It is highly regrettable that the authorities are totally unmindful of the threat to human and plant life. State administration shall have to devise some mechanism of not allowing any brick kiln to appear unless it has proper permission,” Ahmad said.

He confirmed that in District Anantnag some Brick Kilns owners violate Government norms and run their Brick kilns illegally despite closure orders.

“There is no clearance from the PCB to the brick Kilns operating in the district,” Ahmad said, adding that excluding those 16, other Brick kilns who were registered also violate government norms because their brick kilns have expired ‘consent time’.

“We approached them and reminded them several times to apply for the consents but all goes in vain. I have sent legal notice about the brick kilns to the Directorate office and will see what they respond,” he said.

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