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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Closure cloud on brick kilns

Silchar Jan. 9: Gauhati High Court has directed the Assam State Pollution Control Board to take steps to close down brick kilns which do not have its mandatory permission.

The high court, at the same time, has also cracked its whip on temporary industrial establishments manufacturing bricks using only tin sheet chimneys, which are not allowed by the pollution control board.

Kamal Kalyan Dutta, member secretary of the board, today said over phone from Guwahati that all the deputy commissioners in the state have been asked to take steps within a month to wind up the temporary tin-chimney kilns for the sake of environment.

According to pollution control board sources in Guwahati, the state has 912 permanent brick kilns, set up mostly on agricultural land, and of these, 193 do not even have the necessary permission of the board to operate. As a result, several kiln units, the sources pointed out, have been daily contributing to pollution.

Dutta said the Barak valley in south Assam has most of such tin sheet chimney-sporting kilns, numbering 62 as against 38 in the rest of the state. He said the pre-closure notice was issued yesterday to all these brick units to wind up in next fortnight in a firm step to keep the level of air pollution in the state in check.

Sources said after a PIL was filed against one such brick kiln in Sonitpur district by a lady who was vexed by the magnitude of air pollution caused by this erring unit, the high courtís division bench took notice of the menace posed by these brick kilns, many of which do not even possess the necessary permission to operate.

After the PIL was filed, the board had ordered an exercise to survey, inspect and monitor these erring units. It had investigated 106 permanent kilns while private investigators used by the board had inspected 289 such units.

Peasant leader, environment activist and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity president Akhil Gogoi had earlier sought the intervention of the state government on the basis of information he had received through an RTI application about the excess emission of pollutants by these brick kilns.