Illegal Brick Kilns In Bhadrak Raise Pollution, Flood Concerns

Bhadrak: With the mushrooming of illegal brick kilns in Sohada Revenue Circle under Dhamnagar block of Bhadrak district, there is an apprehension among the locals about rise in pollution levels in the area. Reports suggest that as many as six panchayats of Sohada are getting badly affected due to the brick kilns operating in the region.

Sources said the raw bricks are being burnt in northern and southern banks of Baitarani and Genguti Rivers in Dobal and Khadipada area since the last six years and the entire operation is done illegally.

Due to large scale digging of earth and burning of bricks in the region in both private and government land, the area is not only getting polluted, but has become potentially vulnerable to floods, allege locals.

“The brick kilns in operation are very close to human settlement and some of them are even located inside the village. The pollution level has risen, so is the temperature. Even after repeated written complaints, the administration has turned a mute spectator and not taking any steps to stop the practice,” alleged a local, Shiekh Tejuddin.

Echoing similar allegations, another local Sushant Dwivedi stated, “Despite numerous complaints by the villagers, the district administration is not taking action against the defaulters. The officials are in a nexus with the brick kiln mafia who bribe them. The pollution emanated from the brick kilns will make people ill and rampant digging of earth will weaken the river embankments making the area prone to floods.”

Even though restrictions were imposed by the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) in 2013, the brick kiln mafia have continued violating the guidelines. As per reports, around 10 lakh to 15 lakh bricks are being manufactured by each brick kiln owner here.

Notably, after a complaint by the locals during a public hearing of the District Collector held recently, Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Bhadrak, Shyambhakt Mishra with the help of police raided the brick kilns. However, the locals didn’t see any action being taken.

A resident of Dobal village, Pramod Kumar Mandal said “The State Government had directed to shut the illegal brick kilns in 2013 and laid down guidelines to run it. Though the government has banned brick kilns on papers, the officials take share from the mafia, thereby encouraging them to continue the illegal practice.”

Bhadrak ADM Shyambhakt Mishra informed, “We have directed the Tehsildars, particularly those from Bhandaripokhari and Dhamnagar to take immediate steps to stop the practice. Action will be taken within three to four days against those who are found illegally running the brick kilns.”