6000 brick kilns emit toxis fumes around city
Morshed Ali Khan

Nothing has so far been done to update the brick Burning Ordinance to improve the quality of air in and around Dhaka city although the government is seeking to amend the Environment Conservation Act to make it more effective.

Toxic fumes form about 6,000 brick kilns in and around the city and along the river strung, Balu, Buriganga, Shitalakhya and Megha virtually blanket the capital city and its suburbs.

Especially during the dry seasons when bricks are usually produced in the most archaic methods, black colds of various harmful particles and gas hang low in the air, exposing thousands of city dwellers, particularly children, to health hazards. The most common complaint among residents of the city during winter is breathing problem.

Experts pointed out that in addition to black smoke emitted by thousands of two-stroke engine auto-rickshaws and faulty vehicles, fumes from those brick kilns settle in the city's atmosphere and speread a 'fine dust' produced form burning of various fuels. Doctors and drugstores reported manifold increase in the number of patients having respiratory complications during the current dry season. Taking the advantage of the health hazard created by black smoke, some pharmaceutical companies were reportedly marketing various kinds of unauthorised drugs for remedy of respiratory problems.

From Postagola up to the Shitalakhya and Meghnan, several hundred brick kilns along the rivers emit dark black smoke through chimneys, also dangerously restricting visibility to vessles playing in the river routes during day and night. With the construction boom in the city, brick manufacturing has become a profitable business, rapidly attracting scores of investors. But those brick kilns are burnt in the most rudimentary way, burning anything like used tyres, polythene, fuel wood and low quality imported coal. Moreover, brick fields are often set up anywhere, even in densely populated places without any monitoring whats over.

Although setting up of new brick fields had been banned under an Executive Order passed about a year ago, hundreds of those are being set up without any licence or permission form the authorities. The Deputy Commissioners office in every district should monitor the development, but it is widely alleged that the district administration usually ignore the matter in exchange for monthly payments.'

The Department of Environment (DoE) sources said then were worlsing on an amendment to the Environment Conservation Act, and not the Brick Burning Ordinance. Mohammad Reazuddin, DoE Director (Technical), said the Ordinance needs to be amended to deal with the problems now gripping the sector. "Before a brick field is set up, it must have proper clearance from various agencies including the DoE and the law must set the criteria," he added.

Meanwhile, big developers in the cit said they were fully aware of the environmental damages caused be traditional brick kilns. Then claimed that if there was any alternative to bricks for construction, they would ado for that. Mosharraf Hossain, Assistant Manager for Customer Relations of Suvastu Development Ltd. said although there is hardly any alternative to bricks at the moment, some companies are producing bricks using gas as fuel. But their supply is too limited to meet the demand.

Concord, one of the largest developers in the country, is however marketing hollow blocs for five Ears, replacing traditional bricks. Ferdousul Alam of Concord said hollow blocs are made of stone chips, sand and cement and are 'completely environment friendly'. These are 12 to 22 per cent cheaper than bricks and are more durable, he claimed.

But others said Concord's imported technology for hollow blocs will tale a long time to be used widely.Unless there is a government initiative, the new technology cannot replace the old, no matter how environmentally degrading it is, they pointed out.

Source: The New Nation, April 22, 2002 

Home Page



[Micro Credit] [Science & Technology] [Development Strategy] 
[Globalization] [Ecology] [Migrant Worker's Issues]
[Democracy] [Health Issues ]  [Culture & Heritage] 
[Human Rights & Law]  [Women's Rights and Issues]  [Education]
[Poverty]  [Land Management] [Water Management] 
[Economy]  [Personalities]  [Environment]   
[Civil Society]  [Minorities & Ethnicity] [Diplomacy]