BALASORE: Even as brick kilns on the outskirts of Balasore town and elsewhere in the district are flouting environmental norms, Government agencies have closed their eyes to the menace.
These kilns which are set up on cropland have been affecting the agricultural production in the district over the years. Toxic gas emitted from the kilns has a bearing on rice and pisciculture farms which are located around these units.
According to official reports, Balasore has 69 brick kilns of which, only 37 have permission to operate. Though they are permitted to produce 20 lakhs bricks in a year, the figure crosses 80 lakhs. But no action is taken against the illegal kilns for the reason best known to the officials concerned.
A farmer Krupasindhu Jena of Naharpatna area here said the farmland which was producing paddy of over 35 quintal per hectare is now yielding less than 30 quintal after a number of brick kilns came up near it.
In fact, there are more than a dozen brick kilns operating in and around Naharpatana and Fuladi areas here. Locals alleged that they have become victims of pollution mainly due to the fumes emitted from chimneys of the kilns.
Sources at the regional office of the Pollution Control Board (PCB) said already 10 brick kilns, which were set up by flouting the guidelines mentioned in the Air (Pollution Control and Prevention) Act, 1981, have been served closure notice. But it is alleged that the district administration has not taken any step to close them down. These kilns are located in Nilagiri, Kantabania, Santaragadia, Raibania, Jaleswar, Mitrapur and Singla. At least four kilns in Nilagiri area have been asked to close their operations.
Locals claimed that no action is being taken on the kiln owners in Naharpatana and Fuladi who have been flouting the environmental norms for several years. Most of the kilns operating in a short distance of one another are close to either NH-5 or NH-60 and Budhabalanga river.
“An alarming situation has cropped up as the Budhabalanga has started changing its course due to excess extraction of soil from the land close to it. During flood, the entire area along with the kilns remains submerged for days together. The administration has to take a call on this matter,” said social activist Dilip Kumar Parida.
People alleged that a section of officials of the district administration who are hands in gloves were allowing illegal brick kilns to operate.
Though agriculture officials admitted to the fact that several brick kilns in the district had been running on cropland illegally, hampering the agricultural production, they have not initiated any step to close them down. Collector Aravind Agrawal was not available for comments.