Brick kilns in Bihar face government heat!

PATNA: Smoke of some 600 brick kilns regularly add pollutants to the air in the Bihar capital, and many of them have bypassed environmental norms. These kilns are so many that there is even a portion along the Ganges river called ‘Chimney Ghat’! Many of these may have to move soon.

The Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) records show that 596 brick kilns are there in the city. Most of them are along the banks of the River Ganga. Brick kilns have spread out over Maner, Danapur and Digha in the west and between Didarganj and Fatuha in the east.

The state government, through the BSPCB has warned the brick kiln owners to upgrade to environment-friendly technologies within three years, or lose their licences.

In the state like Bihar pre-occupied with caste politics, do any of the political parties are committed enough to address one of the hazardous issue for the sake of the state-“ brick kilns’ incessant impact on environment.”

Continuous emission from the six hundred brick kilns regularly mutltiply the density of pollutants to the air. The fuels used in the brick kilns- agri-waste, powdered coal and used tyres- contribute lethal emissions and are said to be responsible for 15 percent of deaths due to air pollution.

A study on particulate pollution and health impacts, these brick kilns are behind 11 percent of the total air pollution in Patna. Some experts also say that the Ganga has shifted its course near Digha due to construction of brick kilns. Apart from soil erosion, the waste material dumped from these brick kilns have also led to the change in the course of the Ganga at Digha.

“Brick kilns on the banks of the Ganga have been identified as a major cause behind disturbance to the ecology of the river and air pollution in the surrounding areas. A number of kilns follow the traditional process of manufacturing bricks, which is hazardous for environment,” says Rakesh Kumar, member secretary, Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB). “So, we have asked the registered brick kilns owners, especially those on the banks of the river, to adopt to environment friendly technology as per the clean energy norms of the Government of India within three years, or else their annual licence would not be renewed,”

The State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and BSPCB are responsible for giving permissions to operate kilns. SEIAA issues the environment clearance, after which, the brick manufacturer applies to BSPCB for the licence to operate.

In the year 2000, kilns could not be constructed less than 100 metres from the river bank, but today, the existing norms of BSPCB, prohibited kilns within 50m of the riverbank. Why this relaxation took place is anybody’s guess, but experts claim that majority of brick kilns (even the licensed ones) were within 50m of the riverbank.

Principal Secretary In charge of the mines and geology department, B Pradhan, said that existing norms for granting permission to kilns are too complicated and need to be changed but there is no dedicated body for monitoring kilns. Senior officials are preparing draft to make crucial changes in no objection certificate (NOC) norms to put an end to kilns along the Ganges.

Officials in SEIAA claimed that they had stopped issuing environment clearances for new brick kilns along the riverbed of the Ganga.

A local newspaper quoted R.K. Sinha, a professor of zoology at Patna University who said that the river bank is an ideal place for setting up brick kilns because the sandy soil, which is ideal for mixing with clay, is readily available there. The Ganga is preferred because deposits a heavy volume of silt along its banks.

Modernizing the kilns will not be an easy task to achieve, since the kiln owners are unwilling to bear the cost of the added investment required for the purpose. Kilns are a source of seasonal livelihood for a large portion of Bihar’s impoverished migrant population.

The brick kin lobby is a powerful one in the state. With the elections around the corner, it will be seen whether the government really cracks the whip!

[Newsnet Desk with inputs by Ravi Ranjan Kumar]

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Posted by on June 6, 2015. Filed under Bihar,Breaking News,INDIA -WIDE. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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