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Ludhiana

Posted at: Jul 19, 2018, 1:48 AM; last updated: Jul 19, 2018, 1:48 AM (IST)

Brick-kiln owners slam order to halt work for four months

Say prices will shoot up if they aren’t allowed to operate
Brick-kiln owners slam order to halt work for four months
Workers make bricks at a kiln near Ludhiana. File photo

Shivani Bhakoo

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 18

To improve air quality during the winter season, the Punjab Pollution Control Board is taking some necessary precautions. In this direction, a notification was issued by the board in April 2018 asking brick-kilns in the state to restrict their firing period so that air quality in the state is improved.

But this “autocratic” approach of the board has not gone down well with the kiln-owners. The owners said since they had made all necessary amendments to curb the pollution generated by the kilns, board officials should allow kilns to work.

They said if the board did not allow kilns to operate before February 1, 2019, then in the next one or two months, the rate of bricks would be increased to Rs 8,000 per 1,000 bricks, which is presently Rs 5,500 per 1,000 bricks.

“The board has asked all brick-kiln owners to redesign the kilns so that pollution levels are decreased and black-coloured smoke is not emitted from the kilns. This order was issued by the board about two months back to check pollution levels during festival days. But the problem is more of stubble burning when farmers burn the leftover in the fields. Still, we are adhering to what the board wants and many of us have already redesigned the kilns by spending lakhs of rupees. So, why should we wait till February 1, 2019, to run the kilns?” asked one of the kiln-owners, requesting anonymity. The kiln-owners maintain that they would face huge losses if they were not allowed to continue with the firing period in kilns and ultimately, consumers would have to pay the price for it.

At the same time, the board in its notification issued in April maintains that kilns would not operate from October 1, 2018 to January 31, 2019. As per the board, there were about 300 brick-kilns in the state, which made 70-80 lakh bricks per year per kiln. Around 15 tonnes of coal per lakh of bricks is used as fuel. The burning of coal emits carbon dioxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, oxides of sulphur, etc, which deteriorate the quality of air.

A senior citizen Chander Maini said respiratory ailments are at peak during the onset of the winter season due to pollution in the air. “If necessary steps are being taken to provide us quality life then we must not crib and should support the government agencies. This will definitely benefit us all,” he said

Board chairman Kahan Singh Pannu said the board had asked kilns not to operate just for four months. “All efforts are being made to provide a respite to the people. We will check the air quality during that phase. Rather than cribbing, everyone should join hands and support us to improve living conditions,” Pannu said.

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