Poonam Singh

Ganjam: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) to maintain vigil on illegal brick kilns in Ganjam district and complete the actions initiated against them within the requisite time frame.
The principal bench of the NGT has issued the direction while disposing off a case pertaining to 640 illegal brick kiln units operating in Ganjam district.

According to reports, these illegal brick kilns were violating provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

While casting away the case, the NGT observed that “Question that remained to be considered in the matter was the steps taken in respect of the additional 604 non-compliant brick kilns apart from the 640 which have been already identified."
On February 4, 2020, OSPCB had informed the tribunal that the total number of illegal brick kilns was 640 and action had been initiated against those which were in the breach.

The green panel noted however noted that the affidavits filed by the OSPCB do not reflect any action on the matter and ordered for a report to be submitted on the erring brick kilns.

Notably, the tribunal had earlier expressed its dissatisfaction against the OSPCB for having not filed a proper affidavit giving correct information and had directed the Chairman and the Member Secretary of the OSPCB to be present before it.
The direction came on a plea filed by Bishnu Prasad Mishro, seeking closure of illegal brick kilns operating as the regulatory regime were lagging in implementing the relevant laws to close down the illegal kilns.

According to the plea, clay brick-kiln units were set-up in violation of the laws by unscrupulous elements on agricultural lands and brick earth was being excavated rampantly. The petition also stated that sand was extracted from river beds for the use in the brick-kilns without obtaining prior environmental clearance.
The operation of the brick kilns is causing environment and air pollution, it said.

This application had been under consideration of the Tribunal since May 6, 2015.