Soil excavation of the fertile soil on the surface of the farmlands, for usage in the kilns, have reduced the arability of the soil
Brick kilns have been established using farmlands in six upazilas of Narsingdi, excavating the fertile soil on the surface of these lands to use them in brick kilns.
Hundreds of hectares of farmlands are becoming infertile as local brokers and brick kiln owners continue buying the lands from the farmers paying only a little amount.
According to the Agricultural Department, Narsingdi district is rich in agriculture. Produces from Narsingdi meet the demands of different districts, including Dhaka.
However, brick kiln owners have bought 5-10ft of the fertile soil on the surface of the agricultural lands in six upazilas, drastically reducing the production of IRRI, Boro paddy and other vegetables.
District administration sources say there are 135 brick kilns registered in the six upazilas. Environmentalists say the number goes higher.
A visit to different villages in Putiya union under Shibpur upazila, Gazaria in Palash and Mahishashura union under Sadar upazila have been seen machines excavating the fertile farmland soil to use in the kilns. The same is happening in the other three upazilas as well.
Seeking anonymity, a farmer from Gazaria union said: "The village roads have become unfit for use due to the continuous traffic of large and small trucks and trolleys."
Another farmer from the same area said, if the owner of any farmland decides to sell the soil of his lands, the owner from the adjacent farmland also sells his soil in fear of erosion.
As a result, the production keeps on reducing with the decrease of arable farmland.
Narsingdi Agricultural Expansion Officer Deputy Director Shovon Kumar Dhar said: "On average, 75 hectares of farmlands are lost as the fertile soil on their surface is excavated.
"With excavation, nitrogen, phosphorous, iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium and other organic chemicals necessary for growing crops gets drained," he said. "We are trying to raise awareness among the farmers. If they are aware of this, they can resist fertile soil excavation."
He added: "The responsibility of looking after the negative effects on the environment after establishing brick kilns falls upon the Department of Environment. The Agricultural Department can only raise awareness, not much else."
Environmentalist Mainul Islam Miru expressed his disappointment with the Department of Environment's role in stopping the rampant establishment of brick kilns. "Despite repeated complaints, the department is yet to take any initiatives," he said.
Miru claimed the brick kiln owners have continued in becoming bolder because of the department's negligence.
When contacted, Deputy Director of Narsingdi Department of Environment Akhtaruzzaman Tuku denied the establishment of brick kilns on farmlands. He also declined to comment on the excavation of fertile soil for use in the kilns.