No room for indifference in streamlining brickfields
The concern expressed by experts on Saturday at the second Green Festival at Bangladesh Agricultural University auditorium in Mymensingh that unplanned brick kilns pose a serious threat to the country’s food security indeed deserves attention of the authorities concerned. According to them, quoted in a New Age report on Sunday, the owners of brickfields at large around the country use top soil of farmlands to make bricks, putting the latter’s fertility at risk. Moreover, the entrepreneurs generally set up brick kilns flouting the relevant rules and regulations that require a brickfield to be set up on ‘a 1.5 acre plot at least five kilometers from the habitats’ and its exhaust chimney to stand at least 120 feet high, endangering the environment, which also causes adverse impact on food production in the long run. It may be pertinent to mention here that there are more than 4,000 brickfields producing as many as 12 billion bricks and emitting over 6.4 million tones of carbon dioxide—held largely responsible for global warming—a year in the country. That said, one need not be a scientist to understand at what proportion the brick kilns wreak havoc on the country’s crop production and environment.
It is true that brick kilns are crucial for urbanisation and industrialisation in the country. Additionally, this sector provides employment to a significant number of people, especially those belonging to poor and marginalised sections, all over the country. But it is also true that all this cannot be allowed to continue at the cost of the environment and food security of the country. Hence, what is urgent in such a situation is streamlining the brickfields, on the one hand, and taking effective action to protect farmland on the other. Regrettably, however, the government seems to be in a slumber about all this, to say the least. To be precise, there is hardly any enforcement of rules to discipline the brickfields on the part of the relevant government authorities.
Meanwhile, according to the report, the government is yet to frame a law, supposed to protect the top soil of farmland, although the incumbent government has vowed to enact such a law on more occasions than one in the past three years or so. That apart, farmers have the predilection for selling top soil of their land after aman harvest, apparently for lack of awareness of its adverse affect. Hence, the government needs to realise that while it immediately needs to come out of its slumber and streamline brick kilns, a sustained mass awareness campaign about the ramifications of the use of top soil in the kilns has also become essential.
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