The Department of Environment (DoE), in a drive yesterday, demolished five brick kilns and fined the owners Tk 23 lakh for causing severe environmental pollution in Savar’s Namagenda area, not far from Dhaka.
The brick kilns are TBC, MSB, Chand Mia, Modhumoti and KSB, said Executive Magistrate Maksudul Islam who led the drive.
Four brick kilns -- TBC, MSB, Modhumoti and KSB -- were fined Tk 5 lakh each as they did not have necessary documents and Chand Mia Bricks was fined Tk 3 lakh as the brick kiln had some legal papers but not all the clearance, said Maksudul Islam.
The drive against illegal brick kilns started following an order from higher authorities of DoE, said the executive magistrate, adding that the drive will continue.
As per law, there should be no brick kiln within 1.5km of residential areas, educational institutions and hospitals. These establishments had been operating illegally. To make matters worse, the brick kilns were using topsoil from arable lands and polluting the environment, he added.
We are conducting drive against illegal brick kilns which are posing threat to human health, the magistrate also said.
There are over 200 illegal brick kilns operating in Dhamrai and Savar -- contributing to the deteriorating air quality in the country, experts say.
The High Court on November 26 ordered the government to conduct mobile court drives to shut down illegal brick kilns in five districts -- Dhaka, Narayanganj, Gazipur, Munshiganj, and Manikganj -- within 15 days.
In response to a writ petition, the court directed the authorities to take necessary measures to remove dust and waste from streets, footpaths, and flyovers in the capital within seven days.
The order came days after concerning data regarding the capital’s air pollution was made public.
The authorities have also been asked to have water sprayed in dust-affected areas in the city at least twice a day.
At the same time, the HC asked the government to form a high-powered committee -- led by the environment secretary -- within 15 days to formulate a guideline for reducing air pollution in and around the capital and to find out how the air is being polluted.
The capital had the worst air quality in the world on Monday, according to Air Visual -- an air quality measuring application.
The alarming situation reportedly prompted the government to chalk out immediate measures to give city-dwellers some relief.
“The level of air pollution is alarming. Just a few days ago, air quality of Dhaka was the third or fourth worst in the world. But now it tops the ranking,” said Shahab Uddin, minister for environment, forest and climate change, who presided over an emergency inter-ministerial meeting on November 25.
Last year, Dhaka’s air was ranked third most polluted in the world according to an air quality data compiled by the World Health Organization for megacities with population of 14 million or more.