The long-term solution is to phase out the use of traditional bricks
The High Court’s recent order to the authorities concerned to shut down the brick kilns around Dhaka within two weeks -- which appears to be fantastic news at first glance -- requires a more strategic approach.
There is no questioning the positive impact of shutting down the brick kilns around the capital; they are one of the major reasons why Dhaka’s air consistently ranks as amongst the most polluted in the world.
In addition, most brick kilns are known to operate illegally, while allegedly bribing the administration to continue operations. There should be no place for illegal businesses in our economy, particularly those that have such adverse environmental effects.
However, it is not a feasible solution to suddenly tell the owners of these brick kilns to shut down their operations in two weeks; brick kilns, serious polluters aside, do support our infrastructural and construction endeavours.
To that end, it is the High Court’s other directives -- of forming an expert committee to investigate the reason behind Bangladesh’s air and dust pollution along with conducting drives to different construction sites and development projects so that they do not further add to the pollution -- that must be heeded.
Ultimately, the long-term solution is to phase out the use of traditional bricks and to shift towards more sustainable and environment-friendly bricks in our construction.
Not only would this shift to alternative, green bricks have a significantly positive impact on our air quality, it would also help our agriculture, as the manufacturing process of traditional bricks leaves good, arable land barren for several years.
Therefore, while traditional bricks and brick kilns should be phased out from our economy, we need sound strategy while doing so.