No let-up in brick kiln pollution

ANM Mohibub Uz Zaman

18 January, 2019 12:00 AM printer

No let-up in brick kiln pollution

Brick kilns are emitting harmful gases into the air in Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital, polluting environment. The photo was taken on Thursday. — Kamrul Islam Ratan

Illegal and traditional brick kilns set up across the country continue to adversely affect agriculture and pollute the environment.

Despite the government’s efforts to promote environment-friendly brick kilns, unscrupulous entrepreneurs continue to build brick kilns with drum chimneys across the country.

Most of the traditional brick kilns have been set up on farmland, near community area, river, water bodies, and educational institutions in a sheer violation of rules.  

The existing law stipulates that no brickfield can be set up within three kilometres of a residential area or a forest.

According to the statistics of the Department of Environment, there are 7,882 brick kilns in the country with only 120 using modern technology.

Sources said the actual number of brick kilns is much higher than the government’s data and 50 percent of these brick kilns are illegal and pollute the environment.

Abdus Sobhan, general secretary of Poribesh Banchao Andolan (POBA), told the daily sun that around 10,500 brick kilns are currently operating across the country and 50 percent of the kilns are operating with drum chimney and without any license and clearance from the DoE.

He also said in the last one decade the number of brick kilns doubled. Most of the brick kilns use wood and low-quality coal, containing sulphur of more than 5 percent, polluting air.

Most of the brick kilns were set up on farmland and using topsoil of farmland that may create an adverse effect on the country’s agricultural production, he said.

There were around 5,000 brick kilns in 2011, while the number was 6,770 on February 2017 and the number of brick kilns stood at 7,882 on January 2019, according to DoE.

The number of brick kilns jumped by around 1,000 in the last two years, according to government statistics.

Experts, however, said the number of brick kilns is much higher than the government estimate. 

Despite so many problems, the ancient fixed chimney kiln (FCK) technology is dominating the country’s brick sector.

Many cleaner technologies of brick kilns like hybrid Hoffman Kiln (HHK), tunnel kiln and vertical shaft kiln (VSK), are also available in the country but the usage is poor.

Only 39 hybrids Hoffman Kiln (HHK), 81 tunnel kiln and vertical shaft kiln (VSK) and 3 alternative technology brisk kilns are operating in the country.

HHK and Tunnel kiln brick kilns use almost 50 per cent less coal than FCK, semi-automatic technology, and a permanent roof is constructed over the baking area resulting in reduced heat loss.

No chimney is used as smoke from the kiln is not released to the atmosphere rather that is used for drying green bricks, operational throughout the year, permanent job opportunity, higher quality product and production capacity is more than the traditional one.

Md Ziaul Haque, director (Air quality management), Department of Environment, said they have been working to check the establishment of traditional brick kilns.

Many environment-friendly brick kilns are being set up in the country as a result of initiatives taken by the government and international organizations, he said.