Brick kilns a major threat to environment

By Sheikh Maqbool. Dated: 2/7/2019 11:42:23 PM

The illegal constructions and developments are destroying the natural beauty of Kashmir and livelihood of common people. The world famous Dal Lake has arsenic in its water. It has not only lost its natural beauty but also its unique ecological social cultural system.
A much neglected issue is that of the brick kilns, an issue that is being flagged by J&K RTI foundation in collaboration with Save Budgam. There are 550 brick kilns in the entire state. The Budgam district has the highest number with more than 250 kilns functioning here. Most of the workers working in the brick kilns or in other working field are outsiders and mostly from Bihar. Brick kilns are a major factor of air pollution in the valley. And it needs an eco-friendly solution.
Most of the manufacturers do not have license or they have not renewed their license. It is a naked truth that brick kilns fields are not following any environmental law. All brick kilns units are using the old traditional bull trench technology in present. State Pollution Control Board (PCB) has asked the brick kilns owners operating in Srinagar and Jammu cities to switch over from the traditional bull trench technology to eco-friendly zigzag technology within a year as Government of India has fixed timeline to bring down carbon emissions from Brick Kilns, from the existing 750mg/Nm3 level to 250 mg/Nm3, keeping in view that this is the second major contributory of green house gases emissions after thermal gas plants in the country. The unit holders are also advised to immediately plant saplings around their brick kilns as per directions of Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
Brick kilns are not only responsible for air pollution in the state but they are the major reason behind the increasing infertility of the land too. With pain we have to note that the production of saffron has reduced primarily due to brick kilns.
Lack of eco-friendly technology is only one reasons for high pollution levels. Added to that, we do not have any mechanism to supervise it. There are plenty of environmental laws existing but the implementation is weak. The State Pollution Control Board supposed to monitor the pollution norms is just like a paper tiger.
All environmentally degrading projects like mining, constructions and brick kilns are continuing with reckless abandon without application of norms and hampering the state's environmental balance and its eco system. The imperative need to focus our attention on this issue cannot be under-estimated as it exposes the people of the state to immense dangers. Jammu and Kashmir falls in the earthquake sensitive zone. The disastrous flood of 2014 is still fresh in public memory. It is a fact that all the natural disaster occurs due to development minus human and nature's interest.
It is shocking that a huge number of units of brick kilns have been permitted in the valley when we know that this industry is not in the favour of nature of the valley. What our valley needs is eco-friendly industries and not the anti-nature, anti-human, disastrous industries. But in the run of so called development, we are inviting destruction ourselves.
Right to live is a human right. And that is why pollution free air for breathing is one's human right. So the people of the state on the earth must have pure air to breathe. And it is the responsibility of the state to reduce the level of pollution from the valley and rest of the state, whether it is caused from vehicles or constructions or brick kilns. We want development but development must be with human interest.
The writer is Vice chairman and chief spokesperson of J&K RTI Foundation can be reached at



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