Bricks are considered as the elegant material of a building. But when bricks become the source of pollution, replacement of brick technology requires no alternative. In fact, the production process is itself culprit. The brick industry contributes in three major ways to the problems as a matter of serious environmental concern- a) major source of urban and rural (of late) air pollution, b) contributes to land degradation, c) significant cause of deforestation. What is made is not source of contamination, how is made is source of contamination.
Traditional brick making technology is a drastic demon which severely threatens the environment particularly the air. Such technology is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emission that is immensely contributing to air pollution across the country Bangladesh which produces around 6.0 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. High carbon emission level is caused by the outdated technology and substandard fuels such as high sulfur coal, tires and wood energy in kilns. In Bangladesh it takes about 23 tons of coal to produce 100,000 bricks.
The first regulation related to environment in Bangladesh was the Factory Act of 1965, which was followed by the earliest recorded environmental protection act, known as the ‘Water Pollution Control Ordinance, 1970’. However, these ordinances do not include air pollution problems. Gradually these ordinances were modified and the Environmental Pollution Control Ordinance (EPC), 1977, was promulgated. Although the order passed under the EPC 1977 was legally in place, implementation of environmental laws never took place. Neither have we any unique law related only to air pollution control.
Following rapid industrialization, the environmental scenario in Bangladesh changed dramatically. For logical reasons, the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) has demonstrated serious commitment of year-wise measures-
l 1989, The Brick Burning (Regulation) Act of 1989, Bangladesh’s first brick-making law, banned the use of firewood for brick manufacturing and introduced licensing for brick kilns.
l 2001, The 1989 Act was amended to regulate the location of brick kilns. The new provision required that brick kilns not be set up within 3 km of the upazilla or district center, municipal areas, residential areas, gardens, and the government’s reserve forests. Despite this amendment, the location requirements have not been enforced, and use of firewood still continues on a limited scale.
l October 2002, The GOB introduced a rule that made the use of 120-ft chimneys for brick kilns compulsory. This requirement was successfully enforced, especially in the vicinity of urban areas, and most Bull’s Trench Kilns (BTKs) were upgraded to FCK technology.
l March 2007, The GOB issued notification that environmental clearance certificates would not be renewed if the owners did not shift to alternative fuel and improved technologies by 2010. However, this regulation has not been implemented since little on-the-ground activity occurred to facilitate the switch.
l July 2010, a new notification was issued banning FCK operation three years from this date.
Precedent/ Cases against brick field-
BELA issued 4 leading cases regarding the brick field and its hazard to environment, though two of them require further hearing.
l Dr. Mohiuddin Farooque v. Bangladesh & others; Writ Petition No. 1252/1997 (Unregulated Operation of Brick Field)
l Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) v. Bangladesh and others; Writ Petition No. 4962/05 (Illegal Operation of a Brick Field in Naodaboga, Bogra)
l Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) v. Bangladesh and others; Writ Petition No. 8815/05 (Illegal Operation of Brick Fields in Lalpur, Natore)
l Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) v. Bangladesh and others (Brick fields in agricultural land in Barisal)
Challenging the establishment and operation of the listed brick manufacturing fields/kilns in Barisal, BELA filed a writ petition where the Hon’ble Court issued a Rule Nisi calling upon the respondents to show cause as to why the establishment and operation of the listed brick manufacturing fields/kilns should not be declared unauthorized and illegal as the same violate the provisions of the Local Government (Union Parishads) Ordinance, 1983, the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995 and the Environment Conservation Rules of 1997 made thereunder, the Brick Burning (Control) Act, 1989, the Smoke Nuisance Act, 1905, Penal Code, 1860 and why the respondents should not be directed to take effective and appropriate measures to prevent the operation of the brick manufacturing fields/kilns as the same is against public interest and violating fundamental rights of the villagers guarantee under Articles 27, 31, 32, 40 and 42 of the constitution.
Finally, the above image displays the disloyalty of traditional brick kilns with the set of laws and regulations persistent in Bangladesh now. Additionally, the environmental extinction seems to be a matter of moment too with the deadly curse of such kilns. This black technology needs a reasonable replacement by congenial atmosphere as soon as possible for future survival and sustainability.