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Proposal for brick kiln control

- Mines & geology department mulls panchayat role to save Ganga from pollution

Patna, June 7: The state mines and geology department has sent a proposal to the cabinet to restrict the issuance of no-objection certificate (NoC) to new brick kilns on the Ganga banks.

The department has proposed that the monitoring of the brick kilns should be handed over to panchayats and urban local bodies. Under the existing practices, the monitoring is done by the state mines and geology department itself.

“The mines and geology department does not have sufficient number of mines inspectors to keep strict check on brick kilns. Panchayats and urban local bodies on the other hand would be able to do better monitoring as well as help in increasing the revenue to the state government from the brick kilns. Also, the increased level of monitoring by these two government agencies would also ensure that the norms related to construction of brick kilns near the Ganga banks are not violated,” said Ghanshyam Prasad Daftuar, additional secretary-cum-director, mines and geology department.

Monitoring apart, consent to establish and operate the brick kilns is given by the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB), respectively. The consent to establish given by SEIAA is in simple terms an environmental clearance for setting up the brick kilns. Once SEIAA issues the consent to establish, then the intending brick manufacturer applies to BSPCB seeking consent to operate.

According to sources, there are around 6,500 registered brick kilns along the Ganga banks across the state, posing a threat to the already polluted river. Bricks used in construction activities in Patna mainly come from kilns along the Ganga banks at Sherpur (near Maner) and from a few at Patna City.

As per existing BSPCB norms, brick kilns are prohibited within 50 metres from the riverbank. However, the limit for the same was 500 metres till early 2000s. R.C. Sinha, former SEIAA chairman, is of the view that the prohibited area along riverbank should be kept as 500 metres only. “Most of the brick kilns, right from Patna City to Maner are, in fact, on the Ganga riverbed only. In my view, all brick kilns within 500 metres from the riverbank should be removed as they are hazardous for the river,” said Sinha.

Deliberating on the harmful impact of the brick kilns on the river, Sinha said: “The Ganga has in fact, shifted its course near Digha due to construction of brick kilns. Apart from erosion of soil, the waste material dumped from these brick kilns have also led to change in the course of the Ganga at Digha.”

Ganga Dussehra

Ganga Dussehra would be observed on Sunday through special Ganga aarti on several ghats in Patna.

A grand aarti would be done by priests from Varanasi at Gandhi Ghat in the evening and a 1100m garland would be offered to the Ganga at Adalat Ghat. Ganga Dussehra celebrates the descent of Goddess Ganga to earth and it is held on the 10th day of the month of Jyeshtha. Devotees gather at the banks across various cities, including Patna and Varanasi, and take holy dip in the river.