The kilns are destroying nearby croplands and damaging the environment
Wood collected from trees on social and hilly forestry land in Sakhipur, Tangail are being used as fuel to produce bricks in kilns.
The valuable hilly forest trees are being decimated; unfortunately there is no one to stop the activities that that are destroying croplands and causing environmental damage.
According to the Department of Environment, there are around eight brick fields in Sakhipur upazila. Of them, four are legally authorized to operate, but the remainder are not.
However, the unauthorized brick fields continue to operate without abiding by the Department of Environment’s rules and regulations.
Locals claim that they are constantly threatened when they protest against these brick fields that are being built on croplands and in densely-populated areas.
However, the owners—who have influential political ties—continue their operations, while cutting hills and collecting wood by chopping up trees from the forest to use as fuel.
Lumber and kindling can be seen scattered around the areas of the brick fields named Shabuj Bricks and Pubali Bricks in the upazila’s Baheratoil union. Some workers can be seen chopping the wood to burn in the kiln.
According to the directives of the Department of Environment, no brick kilns must be built near densely-populated areas, however Shabuj Bricks is unabatedly continuing with their activities, near a settlement, despite not having a permit.
There are mountains and forests on one side of this brick field, which are gradually being turned into land for brick fields.
According to a truck driver, whose truck is used to supply lumber from the forest, at least 25 loads of lumber are brought to the Shabuj Bricks brick field every two days in a week.
Another brick field, approximately half a kilometre near Shabuj Bricks, is also using woods as fuel, instead of coal.
Several stretches of land, cultivating seasonal crops near those brick fields, are facing losses.
Many farmers have complained that the yield of crops and fruit has decreased due the pollution emitted by the brick kilns.
Locals said they are facing many difficulties as their houses are being ruined by the black smoke and dust released by the kilns.
However, they cannot protest for fear of being threatened. They demand that government take action so that no brick fields remain in the area.
Manager of Shabuj Bricks, Jamal Hossain said: “There are no problems with our brick field as we are working in accordance with the law.
“We have applied for a permit at the Department of Environment, and are continuing our activities at the brick kiln using coal and wood.”
Locals—including Hasmot, Alam, Jahangir, and Arif—have said brick fields were established on a stretch of land in the forest and then their owners extorted the locals in the surrounding areas; grabbing their land or coercing them to sell it at a cheap price.
Tangail Department of Environment Inspector Sajeeb Kumar Ghosh told the Dhaka Tribune: “We have also received complaints against these brick fields, however our hands are tied.
“They were able to continue with their operations of the brick field by filing a writ petition with the court; and taking advantage of the situation, they are cutting down trees in the forest to collect wood for fuel.”
He further added: “We will take necessary actions after discussing the matter with the Deputy Commissioner.”