Agricultural lands in villages surrounding the district town are now peppered with brick kilns, posing a serious threat to the environment and crop production.
Unabated sand lifting and easy availability of top soil have fuelled their growth.
Siddiqur Rahman, general secretary of the District Brick Kiln Owners Association, blamed the “nonchalant attitude” of the local administration for the situation, insisting that they do not want the destruction of arable lands.
During a visit to C&B Ghat in the town’s Digrirchar area recently, this correspondent saw some 12 brick kilns in the area. Three of them at Aijuddin Matubbar Dingi are located on croplands.
Vehicles loaded with bricks, sands and logs were seen crossing the roads. The brick kilns are attracting a large number of workers from outside the district, making the areas densely populated.
According to the local administration, there are 97 brick kilns in nine upazilas of the district and 10 of them are modern.
Niru Fakir, a resident of Aijuddin Matubbar Dingi area, accused the authorities concerned of giving clearance certificates ‘unethically’. “Dust and smoke from the brick kilns are making this area uninhabitable,” he said.
Sheikh Shahed Ali, a resident of Digrirchar area, said the nonstop plying of brick-laden vehicles has made the roads in the area dilapidated. The trees here are turning pale due to black smoke emitted from the brick kilns.
ABB Brick Kiln owner Arshad Ali Bepary said two brick fields have been set up beside his arable land. “I couldn’t grow any crop on my land and this eventually forced me to set up a brick kiln,” he said.
Mohamamd Lutfur Rahman, deputy director of Department of Environment (DoE), Faridpur, said permission to set up brick kilns on arable lands or densely-populated areas are usually not given.
“But in some cases, clearances are given if the upazila agriculture official permits. We’ll investigate and take actions if we receive complaints about clearances given to brick kilns that are harming the environment.