Brick kilns now have to buy coal from 'middlemen'
Most of the brick kiln operators in the country are facing serious problem to start brick burning in the peak season due to lack of coal supply from Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Ltd (BCMCL).
Now the kiln operators have to buy coal for Tk 27,000 to 30,000 a tonne from trade licence holders instead of Tk 12,000 from BCMCL directly, said the operators.
The situation has arisen as the mine authorities restricted sale of coal to brick kiln owners on the plea of problems in their environment certificates while trade licence holders can easily buy coal from BCMCL, said mine sources and stakeholders.
Surprisingly, the 10 union parishads (UPs) of Parbatipur upazila in Dinajpur issued at least 5,000 trade licences in three days from December 17, sources said.
The BCMCL authorities in a circular published in different newspapers on December 15 and 16 invited applications from coal buyers as the authority decided to sell 1,00,000 tonnes of coal, after a suspension of the sale for six months.
Md Shariful Alam, deputy general manager (Finance) of BCMCL, was the signatory to the circular that mentioned December 21 as the last date for filling the application form.
In the advertisement, the BCMCL authorities asked only for trade licence, national ID cards and certificates from the environment department but unlike previous years, they did not mention submission of TIN numbers and vat documents for the purpose, said the traders.
Of around 5,000 people who applied for coal this time, nearly 3,000 applied only with a trade licence, mine sources said.
After scrutiny, the mine authorities initially selected 600 applicants for selling coal and very few of them are brick kiln operators, said a member of the scrutiny committee seeking anonymity.
During a visit to the mine site yesterday, this correspondent learnt that brick kiln owners from different areas of the country have been staying in the mine area for the last several days to collect coal, only to be frustrated as time passes.
Several people from different brick fields of Joypurhat, Naogaon, Rangpur and Brahmanbaria alleged that the BCMCL authorities changed the condition of application for coal to get undue benefits by forcing the brick kiln operators to pay additional money.
“It is really unreasonable that brick kiln operators are denied coal under the plea of problems in environment certificate, while the mine authorities are selling coal to trade licence holders who are ready to sell the item to others for exorbitant prices," said Abdul Aziz of Asad Bricks in Brahmanbaria.
Contacted, Sirajul Islam, general manager (Administration) of BCMCL, refuted the allegation and claimed that the owners of brickfields and large industrial units are getting priority during scrutiny of the applications for purchase of coal.