Brick kilns are taking a heavy toll on topsoil, different orchards, and public health
At least 32 brick kilns in Birganj upazila of Dinajpur are operating illegally due to lax monitoring and supervision by the authorities concerned, all the while having a harmful impact on the environment and public health.
The brick kilns have been set up beside bazaars, croplands, educational institutions, fruit gardens, localities, and other establishments.
Seasonal fruits and crops including mangoes, lychees and paddies are being damaged due to emission of black and toxic smoke from messy brick kilns.
The smoke from the kilns is taking a heavy toll on different ecologically-enriched orchards of bananas, mangoes and eucalypti.
Moreover, the tin-roofs of houses are getting burnt. Land pieces are losing fertility following lifting of top soils for manufacturing bricks.
KBM brickfield has been set up beside farmlands in Kabirajhat to Gopalganj Road in Kalitoli area under Vognagar union of the upazila by cutting small hills in Sharishua area and topsoil of lands.
When contacted, the owner of the KBM brickfield said he had applied to DoE seeking permission to run the business.
Department of Environment (DoE) sources said lifting of topsoil has a bad impact on the environment as farmers apply too much chemical fertiliser and pesticide on the crops in these lands. Chemical fertilisers and pesticides flow into nearby water bodies from farmlands and pollute the water.
"With the hope of getting expected production of crops from land without topsoil, I applied an overdose of fertiliser and pesticide, but the result is not as expected,” said a resident of Kabirajhat.
Yakub Ali Babul, president of Brickfield Samity of the upazila, said only around five to seven brick kilns have legal documents.
Meanwhile, many brickfield owners have applied for licenses who have no permission to run their factories, he added.
Seeking anonymity, a brick kiln owner said though they run their factories illegally, they contribute to the government offices.
“We have to supply bricks to many government offices without payment,” he said.
Large-scale use of topsoil from farmlands for manufacturing bricks badly affects agriculture and harms the environment, said a teacher of Sunshine Model School and College. He urged the authorities concerned to take immediate measures for stopping the harmful practice.
Farmers in Birganj urged the government to take steps for protecting topsoil, fruits orchards, and several institutions from the clutches of brick kiln owners.
Dinajpur DoE Director Samiul Alam said, “We have taken steps against illegal brick kilns several times. Our drives are going on.”
Brickfields cannot be built within a specific distance from educational institutions, residential, business or protected areas, city corporations, municipality or upazila headquarters, public or private forests, environmental sanctuaries, gardens or wetlands, agricultural land, ecological crisis areas, or areas with high air pollution, he added.