Defying law and posing serious threats to the environment and public health, over two dozen brick factories continue to operate in Bogura municipality area.
The local administration and the Department of Environment (DoE) are yet to take any visible measures against them although the law prohibits setting up such brick kilns inside municipal areas, said sources at Brick Manufacturing Owners’ Association.
Several months back, three brick factories were dismantled during a drive of the authorities concerned. Since then, not a single brick kiln in the area has been removed, said locals.
Wishing anonymity, many said the brick field owners are bribing the officials concerned to continue their business,
The administration and DoE however rejected the allegations.
Meanwhile, brick kilns owners are preparing to produce bricks for the next season, saying that a writ petition is currently being heard by the High Court.
Nazmul Hasan Shuvo, manager of SNB brick factory in Madla Helenchapara, said they will stop operation if they do not get permission. He also turned down the claims about bribing government officials.
Atiqur Rahman Badal, general secretary of the district’s brick manufacturing association, and Fuara Khatun, upazila nirbahi officer of Shajahanpur, could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.
DoE Inspector Maqbul Hossain said there had been a hearing at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change over brick factories in municipal areas.
“But no order has been issued in this regard,” he said, adding, “We’ll implement the decisions taken by the ministry.”
Hossain pointed out that the lack of manpower is preventing them from properly monitoring the areas. “That’s why illegal brick kilns continue to operate,” he said.
TOP AIR POLLUTER
According to the DoE, brick kilns are the top air polluter in major cities in the country, particularly during dry season when most bricks are made, turning the air quality of these places “severely unhealthy”.
Continued exposure to poor quality air can cause heart diseases, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and respiratory infections, including pneumonia. It could also cause stroke, according to the WHO.
The UN health body estimates 37,000 Bangladeshis die due to air pollution every year, the average age of the victims being just 38 years.