Locals say, the illegal brick fields have been continuously burning firewood, and tyres instead of the specific standard of coal for brick production
As many as 40 brick kilns have been built without obtaining permission from the Department of Environment (DoE) and local administration, posing a serious threat to the croplands as well as public health alike, in Dhunat upazila of Bogra.
Locals say, the illegal brick fields have been continuously burning firewood, and tyres instead of the specific standard of coal for brick production. They are also using chimneys which are in poor condition, and below the legal height, which pollutes the environment, and causes serious health problems to locals, including women, and children.
A vast stretch of arable lands of the upazila have already lost their fertility due to being in close proximity to the brick fields, declining their production capacity thus causing economic loss to farmers.
Moreover, the owners of these illegal establishments are razing hills in full swing for necessary raw materials, which is also contributing to ecological damage.
During a recent visit to the Kurigati village under Mothurapur union of the upazila, this correspondent found that many illegal brick kilns namely Progoti, Boss, Diganta, Bondhu, Five Star, Adorsho, Ekota, and Grameen were operating by defying rules and regulations, set by the DoE, and the district administration.
Harun Or Rashid, chairman of Mothurapur Union Parishad said: “Many brick kilns, set up here illegally, are destroying the production capacity of croplands, and incurring losses to farmers.”
Dhunat Upazila Agriculture Officer Jahangir Alam said: “Most of the brick kilns of the upazila were built violating the law. For this reason, the local Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) did not provide the attestation letter to the brick kiln owners to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the DoE.”
Mizanur Rahman and Kamrul Islam, owners of Progoti and Boss brick kilns, respectively told our correspondent that they had applied for the NOC from the DoE.
When asked, how they operated their brick kilns without permission from the authorities concerned, they replied, that they paid off the local administration through the Brick Fields Owners’ Association in the upazila.
Haider Ali Hindol, president of Dhunat upazila Brick Fields Owners Association said: “Only 24 to 25 brick kilns in the upazila are being operated with permission. As they were newly constructed, they are yet to obtain legal papers from the concerned authority.”
About the allegations of bribing the administration, he said the owners donated that money to administration during various occasions like February 21, December 16, etc.
Dhunat Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Razia Sultana said: “The district administration issues licence to brick kiln owners, upon the NOC provided by the DoE.”
Regarding the allegations of bribery in the administration, she said investigations will be launched to verify these allegations, and if found to be true, the people responsible will be brought to the book.
“We will soon conduct drives against all brick kilns operating illegally,” she added.