Chattogram: Appellate Division makes shutting down of illegal brick kilns easier

The Supreme Court’s Appellate Division on Wednesday made the shutting down of all illegal brick kilns – running without a valid licence in Chattogram’s Lohagara upazila – easier for the government.

Chamber judge of the Appellate Division Justice Obaidul Hassan denied staying the High Court order.

However, Justice Obaidul sent the appeal – filed by 11 brick kiln owners of Lohagara – to the full bench of the Appellate Division, setting August 16 for hearing.

Advocate Manzill Morshed stood for Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh, Advocate Momtaz Uddin Fakir represented the brick kiln owners, and Advocate Syed Kamrul Hossain moved for the environment department.

“Following a writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh, the High Court on December 14 last year directed the authority concerned to shut down all illegal brick kilns – that do not have licence – in Chattogram within February 14,” Advocate Manzill Morshed said.

“As the 11 brick kiln owners of Lohagara filed an appeal challenging the High Court order, Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain sent the case to the court of Justice Obaidul for hearing.”

Brick kilns: Key source of air pollution

A report by the Department of Environment (DoE) and the World Bank published in March last year on the sources of air pollution in Bangladesh identified three main culprits – brick kilns, fumes from vehicles and dust from construction sites.

“Brick kilns are responsible for 58 percent of air pollution in the capital. Plans have been taken to shut [traditional] kilns currently in operation. We’re working to produce eco-friendly bricks,” Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin had told UNB.

“The government plans to stop burning bricks at kilns by 2025 and use block bricks to construct buildings under government projects.”

Kiln owners have already been directed to produce 10 percent block bricks, the minister said, adding that it will be increased to 100 percent over time and the use of block bricks will gradually be made mandatory in private projects, too.

The DoE has been conducting drives against the illegal brick kilns for months now and slapping fines.