CUTTACK: The failure of district administration to crack down on illegal brick kilns has added to the woes of this sweltering summer. Environmentalists have opined that mushrooming of illegal brick kilns in the district is one of major contributing factors for rising temperature besides land degradation and air pollution.
According to reports, despite the restriction imposed by Odisha State Pollution Control Board, more than 2500 illegal brick kilns are operating in all the 15 tehsils of the district. If sources are to be believed, these brick kilns are being run by influential persons in connivance with some local revenue officials.
Reportedly, the highest number of illegal brick kilns is operating in Nischintakoili, Mahanga and Salepur tehsils. This apart, most of the brick kilns have been set up in agriculture land close to human habitations, schools and even temples and monuments protected either by State Archaeology Department or Archaeological Survey of India.
The brick kiln owners dig earth continuously from the month of November to May to manufacture bricks. Each unit spreading over two to five acres of land produces 10 to 15 lakh bricks annually during this period. In the process, they render the land unsuitable for farming thereby degrading the fertility of soil. A kiln uses about eight tonne of wood in each furnace during the brick making season. The use of huge quantity of wood in brick kilns is one of the causes of pollution and deforestation in the district. And in the process, it is also leading to rise in temperature, says Pradipta Kishore Mishra, an environmentalist of Paschimakhanda Bhola in Nischintakoili block.
The brick kiln owners prefer to produce more bricks in April and May as the drying process of the clay is easy in these two summer months. For this reason, mercury level is rising in the vicinity of brick kilns, particularly during summer. Though the locals have been complaining of health related problems caused by these illegal brick kilns, action is yet to be taken against the owners,” says Pradip Behera of Nischintakoili.
When contacted, Nischintakoili Tehsildar Debasis Mohanty said, “We have collected revenue to the tune of over `3 lakh by imposing fine on 180 persons operating brick kilns illegally. We have no power to restrain or destroy the illegal brick kilns except imposing a fine on the owner.”
Collector Nirmal Chandra Mishra, however, said the Tehsildars have been directed to take action against illegal brick kilns with help of officials of Factories and Boiler department. But they are not executing the order properly, Mishra added.