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Dhaka Tribune

Brick kiln owners given more time to clean up their act

Update : 04 Nov 2013, 07:50 PM

The government has decided to extend the deadline for converting the country’s traditional brickfields to cleaner and more environmentally-friendly designs to June 30 next year.

The Department of Environment (DoE) issued a letter in this regard on October 13, signed by its Senior Assistant Secretary Habibur Rahman.

The letter stated that the traditional brickfield owners would have to convert their factories by next year’s deadline along with a payment of Tk200, 000 as compensation for polluting the environment.

In September, Asadur Rahman, vice-president of Bangladesh Brick Makers-Owners Association, had requested the government to extend the timeframe, saying most of the brickfields were yet to convert due to a shortage of funds as the improved technologies required huge investment.

A lack of skilled manpower was one of the major obstacles in using new technologies, and the brick makers would need at least two more years to train adequate manpower for the improved technology, said Asadur Rahman while talking to the Dhaka Tribune in September.

The government in September 2010 gave the brick makers two years to adopt energy-efficient and relatively cleaner technologies like Zigzag, Hybrid Hoffman Kiln (HHK) and Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln (VSBK).

Later, the deadline was extended by six months until March this year, and again by another three months till June, 2014.

Meanwhile, Deputy Director of the DoE, Solaiman Haider, said: “Considering the brick makers’ request, the government has reached the decision so that they can train adequate manpower during this time and make the transition towards cleaner technologies.”

Apart from occupying agricultural land, conventional brickfields in the country are blamed for contributing to deforestation and belching out black fumes into the atmosphere. The government alongside a number of global and local agencies have been trying to convince the owners to adopt modern technologies to save both environment and farmland.

During this time, the DoE had directed that no new kilns using conventional Fixed Chimney Kilns (FCK) technology would be approved or renewed.

About 90% of the existing brick kilns in Bangladesh use the 150-year-old technology, which is highly energy intensive and emits huge levels of carbon dioxide with a knock-on serious impact on the atmosphere, human health and croplands.

As of June 2013, a total of 6,356 authorised brick kilns were operating in the country, according to the DoE. Of them, only 1,101 plants have been converted into Zigzag, HHK and VSBK.

The brick making industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in Bangladesh with an estimated annual production of around Tk8.66bn. It is, however, one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, in the country, estimated to be 6m tonnes of CO2 annually.

According to some estimates, about 33% of the fuel used in brick kilns comes from wood, which is strictly prohibited by law. Moreover, some are using low-quality coal imported from India.

In comparison, HHK, one of the suggested technologies, is more energy-efficient and clean. It can produce seven times more bricks than conventional fields while requiring 40% less fuel.

However, the improved kilns demand a huge investment, which is about Tk100 million while the traditional ones need only Tk5 million.

Bangladesh Bank has already introduced two separate funds to finance in environmentally-friendly ventures including the brick manufacturing sector.

Under the scheme, the central bank has allocated Tk4bn, which comes from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to finance the brick makers, who want to convert their conventional kilns.


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