JAGATSINGHPUR: Illegal brick kilns are on the rise at several places in the district due to inadequate restrictions by the State Government. The nexus between brick kiln owners and revenue officials has worsened the situation.
Violating the directive of the Revenue and Disaster Management department, hundreds of unauthorised brick kilns have been set up under Tirtol, Kujang, Raghunathpur, Biridi and Jagatsinghpur tehsils.
Kilns set up along the riverside are in violation of provisions under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
In 2005, the Forest and Environment department had issued a direction to all Collectors and Tehsildars to ensure that no brick kiln should be set up within 250 metres of flood embankment and none should exist within 500 metres from the riverbed where there are no flood embankments.
While unscrupulous traders are setting up unauthorised brick kilns along the rivers by developing nexus with revenue officials, the local administration remains a silent spectator. Around 10 unauthorised bricks kilns have been set up on the 5-km stretch from Kotakana in Tarajanga panchayat to Sujauddin Nagar in Manijanga panchayat along the Mahanadi riverbed.
Illegal brick kilns are also coming up on Mahanadi riverbed and Talanda canal embankment under Tirtol, Raghunathpur and Kujang tehsil limits as they provide easy access to clay and water.
It is feared that the river and canal embankments may face massive erosion leading to felling of trees and displacement of settlers.
Locals alleged that brick kiln owners illegally lift sand every day from the riverbeds causing soil erosion. The traders have destroyed the casuarina forest due to erection of brick kiln with the knowledge of revenue and forest officials but no action has been taken against the errant owners, they said.
Environmentalist Amar Prasad Mohanty said despite restriction, illegal brick kilns are on the rise in the district. Bricks are heated at a temperature between 700-1100 degree Celsius which requires a large amount of fuel. As a result, brick kilns consume millions of tonnes of coal per year and it contributes to carbon dioxide emissions, including heat wave, he added.
Sub-Collector Narahari Sethi said the district administration has directed all tehsildars to take action against illegal brick kiln owners and impose fine on them. This time, permission has been given to a few brick kiln owners as per norms.