A parliamentary body yesterday asked the forest and environment ministry to take punitive action against the owners who have failed to transform their brick factories through the use of environment-friendly zig-zag technology and are consequently contributing to pollution.
The parliamentary standing committee on forest and environment also asked the ministry to amend the environment court law, keeping the provision of filing an appeal against its order.
The Department of Environment (DoE) told the committee that around 40 percent of brick fields have been upgraded within the deadline of July in line with the government directives.
“The committee therefore asked... ministry officials to issue notices to all deputy commissioners to take action against the rest of the brick field owners who have defaulted,” Hasan Mahmud, chief of the committee, told reporters after the meeting at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban.
There are an estimated seven to eight thousand brick fields in the country, including 4,500 around the densely populated Dhaka city, causing grave concern of environmental hazards.
The brick factories have long been identified as a major source of air pollution, especially those still using outdated technology. Unfortunately, little was done in the past to eliminate or reduce the extent of pollution caused by these industrial units.
Living around brick fields may cause certain diseases induced by polluted air. These factories also cause the loss of soil fertility and damage crops.
In 2007, the DoE took an initiative to modernise the brick kilns by making mandatory the use of technologies less hostile to the environment by 2010.
The department at that time also decided not to renew the environmental clearance certificates to the brick kilns using old, conventional methods of production after 2010.
DoE made it mandatory to upgrade all brick kilns,Hundreds of activists and supporters from most districts joined it.
Before start of the rally, the activists of Fazlul Haque Hall and Amar Ekushey Hall units of Dhaka University clashed with those of Jagannath University at the venue over sitting arrangements, leaving six injured.
The fighting lasted for 15 minutes when they threw chairs and sticks at each other, said Enamul Haque Prince, a central leader of BCL. The DU unit president and general secretary stopped them.
The PM arrived over one hour after the fighting.
Addressing the rally, Hasina said conspirators of the August 15 and August 21 were still active and asked BCL to strengthen the organisation and remain alert against them.
She said Bangabandhu's historic March 7 speech which inspired the nation to fight against the Pakistani forces in 1971 had got a place in a book of political speeches of 2,500 years around the world.
Hasina criticised BNP founder Ziaur Rahman, former military dictator HM Ershad, and ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia for "rewarding" the killers of Bangabandhu and patronising anti-liberation elements in politics.
In his speech, BCL General Secretary Siddiqui Nazmul Alam said the student body had done many wrongs, consciously or unconsciously, and pledged no to do so again in the future.
He also threatened to "remove bricks" from the houses of BNP-Jamaat men across the country if they celebrated August 15 as birthday of Khaleda Zia again.
AL Presidium Member Obaidul Quader and Joint General Secretary Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Vice Chancellors of Dhaka University and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique and Prof Pran Gopal Datta, and lawmaker Tarana Halim also spoke.