In order to check air pollution in non-attainment cities and towns across Punjab, the state Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday approved a draft action plan for conversion of natural draft brick kilns to induced draft brick kilns. These kilns have a rectangular shape and zigzag brick setting as directed by Punjab State Council for Science & Technology. Brick kilns in the state have been given a deadline till September 30, 2019, to make the conversion.
The decision is in line with the directions of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) regarding prevention and control of air pollution in such cities and towns.
The draft order was proposed to regulate the process of conversion of brick kilns to induced draft technology with zigzag setting under section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The proposed directions include: the brick kilns within non-attainment cities will not be allowed to operate in pursuance of directions issued by the CPCB on July 1, 2016, no new brick kiln will be allowed to be established in the state without having induced draft technology with zigzag setting, and no conventional brick kiln with natural draft technology will be allowed to operate after September 30, this year.
The brick kilns in the process of conversion to induce draft technology with zigzag setting/yet to start the process intending to operate the brick kiln are required to pay an environmental compensation on the basis of `polluter pays principle’ to the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) with effect from February 1, 2019, till the adoption of induced draft technology. The compensation has been set at Rs. 25,000 per month for zig zag setting with kiln of capacity equal to more than 30,000 bricks per day and Rs. 20,000 per month for kiln of capacity less than 30,000 bricks per day.
The PPCB would ensure that the brick kilns are operated in compliance with the code of practice prescribed by the CPCB, as well as the state board.
As per the current status of conversion of brick kilns in the state provided by the Punjab State Council for Science & Technology, 482 brick kilns have already converted to the new technology and 559 were in pipeline for shifting to induced draft technology. Notably, around 2800 brick kilns are operating in Punjab, producing around 15-20 billion bricks per annum. This constitutes about 8 per cent of total production of the country and the brick kiln industry employs about 0.5-0.6 million workers.