Defying the law, 11 illegal brick kilns are being built on farmlands in three upazilas, posing a threat to agriculture and the environment.
Of them, nine are in Hatibandha upazila and the other two are in Sadar upazila and Patgram upazila.
Local farmers have submitted written complaints to the deputy commissioner (DC), the Department of Environment (DoE) and the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) against these illegal brick kilns, but there has been no response from them. The owners of the kilns have speeded up construction so as to go into operation immediately, the farmers said.
Jasir Uddin, 65, of Purbo Sarodubi village of Hatibandha upazila, alleged that local muscleman Lutfar Rahman is setting up a brick field on the farmlands in the village without discussing with the farmers.
“We are dependent on agriculture, and if the kilns go into operation it will be harmful for us,” he said, adding that he has a fruit orchard on four acres of land. “Written complaint was lodged against the illegal brick kiln,” he said, demanding prevention of operation of the kiln.
“If the kiln goes into operation, we will stop cultivating our croplands as we will not get expected production. We may not be able to recover the production cost,” said Shahab Uddin, 68, of the same village.
Protul Chandra Barmon, 68, of Purbo Nawdabash village, said Baiddonath Dola in Hatibandha upazila is known for producing huge quantity of crops, but this farmland area is facing a challenge to produce expected amount of crops as a brick kiln is being built there. “We do not want to see the brick kiln start operation,” he said.
“Local muscleman Jalal Uddin is setting up a brick field on farmland without discussing with the farmers,” said Abdul Mannan, 58, a farmer of the village. “How can we produce crops here if the brick kiln starts operation,” he said, adding that he (Jalal) has 15 bighas of land in the area.
However, brick kiln owner Lutfar said he has submitted applications to the DC, DoE and DAE to get permission for running a brick kiln. “If I do not get permission I will go to the High Court,” he said, adding that a brick field on farmland is not harmful for agriculture or the environment.
“After exchanging views with the local farmers I started building the kiln on farmland in Baiddonath Dola,” said Jalal Uddin, another brick kiln owner. “It is true I do not have permission, but if I fail to get permission from the authorities concerned, the door of the High Court is open for me,” he added.
Lalmonirhat DAE Deputy Director (DD) Bidhubhushon Roy told this correspondent that his office did not receive any application for building brick kilns on farmlands.
Rangpur DoE DD Mesbah-Ul-Alam told this correspondent that his office did not issue any approval to build a brick field in Lalmonirhat. “We never give permission without visiting the spot,” he said, adding that his office will take action against illegal brick kilns.
Lalmonirhat DC Shafiul Arif told this correspondent that necessary legal steps will be taken against illegal brick kilns very soon.