Tobacco workers unaware about health problems working at their kiln. PHOTO: STAR
At least two hundred tobaccos kilns have been set up at different villages of three upazilas in Lalmonirhat district for processing tobacco leafs. Funded by tobacco companies, these kilns pose serious threat for the environment in the villages. Unaware farmers who are engaged in tobacco cultivation set up these tobacco kilns are taking all kind of necessary supports from the tobacco companies. Conscious farmers and local people strongly protested the setting up of these kilns but their efforts could not change the minds of the people setting up the kilns.
Sirazul Islam,44, a local school teacher at Durgapur village of Aditmari upazila said, at least 25 tobacco kilns have been set up in the village by tobacco growers for processing tobacco leafs but all these tobacco kilns are working as serious threat for the environment in the village. “Bad smell of tobacco from the tobacco kilns attack all of us in the village and we can't move around easily. I protested against the tobacco kilns in the village but I failed to make a change since there is strong support for these kilns,” said another school teacher Mizanur Rahman at same village.
Seher Jaman, 48, a tobacco kiln's worker at Vatapara village said, green tobacco leafs are taken inside the tobacco kiln and these are heated by fire. At least six hours are needed to process tobacco leafs in the kiln, he said adding that a pipe is used to channel the smoke out from the kiln, but the pipe isn't very tall. Abdul Khaleque, 45, a tobacco grower at Tiperbazar village of Aditmari upazila said that tobacco companies bears all the expenditure of tobacco kilns. “We process tobacco leafs in the tobacco kiln to earn good profit but we are unaware about its bad impact on our life and environment,” he said.
Shariful Islam Milon, a college student at Kakina village of Kaliganj upazila alleged that local people are forced to inhale smoke of tobacco from the tobacco kilns in the village, as the tobacco kilns are run round the clock for processing tobacco leafs. Requesting anonymity, a tobacco company's representative in Lalmonirhat said that tobacco companies fund the establishment of these kilns, and the farmers are running these kilns at beside their homesteads as they are influenced with attractive offers.