Twin cities’ brick kilns poisoning the environment | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Twin cities’ brick kilns poisoning the environment

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: Presence of smoke-emitting brick kilns in the outskirts of Rawalpindi and the federal capital is visibly damaging air quality of the twin cities as officials at the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) seem least bothered to check the issue.

None of the ministry officials contacted by The Express Tribune could provide any comprehensive guidelines that the ministry might have formulated outlining rules for a climate-friendly design for brick kilns.

Majority of brick kilns are still using primitive techniques which is continuously deteriorating the air quality due to emission of various harmful gases.

A survey conducted by The Express Tribune revealed that except for two, more than 50 brick kilns located in Lohi Bher, Tarlai and adjoining areas have shifted to Lousar, a village adjacent to Rawat and to Mandra.

These brick kilns have been forced to shift thanks to land grabbers and a mushroom growth of private housing societies in the vicinity of the twin cities.

To keep their heating system on for 24 hours all year round, these brick kilns burn coal.

“There is no manual or practical tool to guide entrepreneurs to rebuild their kilns in environment-friendly methods, we had to bear millions of rupees in losses due to the absence of construction guidelines and drawings,” said Chaudhry Sajid and Raja Rizwan, who had built a state-of-the-art mechanised brick kiln.

They said they had to dismantle their mechanised kiln due to lack of facilities and government assistance as well as frequent electricity cuts.

The brick kiln owners said during the last few years the demand for bricks had increased manifold due to soaring number of new housing societies and development activities.

This has also provided an opportunity to the brick industry to promote a cleaner brick kiln design.

“On average, a brick kiln requires around 5.5 metric tonnes of coal very month, it means more than 3,400 metric tonnes of coal is burnt in Islamabad and Rawalpindi for brick production,” Chaudhry Rehman, a brick kiln owner said.

Nazir Hussain, a clerk at a brick kiln in Lousar, said during peak season each kiln produced around 750,000 bricks a month and on average around 25,000 raw clay bricks were prepared per day, and a family prepares around 1,000 to 1,400 raw clay bricks everyday.

“The environment is not a priority for the government as many key posts in the MoCC and its attached departments are lying vacant or have been additionally occupied by other officials,” an official at the Pak-EPA told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity.

The ministry has also been working without a minister since the removal of Mushahidullah Khan.

Moreover, the EPA official said that the post of director general of the agency had been lying vacant for the past two months, which was affecting the day-to-day affairs of the agency.

The official added that the work of monitoring of environment had come to a zero, which showed the lack of seriousness of the government regarding environmental issues.

A former official of Pak-EPA said on condition of anonymity that officials of the ministry and Pak-EPA were always busy in blaming each other for the country’s environmental woes.

Express Tribune