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Brick Kilns In Beerwah-Budgam Pose Serious Health Hazard To Locals

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The mushrooming of several brick kilns in Beerwah-Budgam is posing a serious threat to agricultural land and people’s health. Further, these kilns are promoting employment of child labor and operating without complying to pollution control norms.

Social Activist Syed Karar Hashmi requested the concerned administration and other higher authorities to resolve the matter on priority or be prepared to feel the heat.

A Brick kiln at an agricultural land

Emission of black smog from the burners of these brick kilns established in agricultural lands is continuously increasing health and environmental risks in the area. The villages that fall in the said area include Mirgund, Wahpora, Sonpah, Hayatpora, Goundipora, Dansyra, Narwari, Utligam, Sarath Batpora, Chandpora, and Nasrullah Pora and amongst others.

Neither the district administration nor any other government machinery took a single legal action against any brick kiln owner to date.  People of the vicinity have complained that they are suffering from short of breath, liver diseases and other respiratory ailments due to the black smog emerging from the established brick kilns.

A worker at one of the brick kilns

The activity of burning coal in these kilns is resulting in the emission of harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide that are responsible for serious rise of bronchitis and asthma in the locality, particularly among the youth.  Renowned social Activist of Beerwah-Budgam, Mr Javaid Beigh said, “brick kilns operating across the valley, particularly in Beerwah, are doing so without complying with the pollution norms and necessary clearances from the authority. We will intensify our drive against all established brick kilns with an intention to save our future generation from the harmful effects of the same.” He also added that the shocking part of the story is that children below the age group of 12-14 are working in brick kilns and construction sites in Beewah-Budgam.

Brick kilns cause soil erosion in the area

The international standard set by the International Labor Organization (ILO) Minimum Age Convention prohibits children below 14 years of age from participating in any form of labor and prohibits employment and admission of children below this age to hazardous work in any form.

The authorities have apparently turned a blind eye to all this frenzy that has been unfolding on a large scale. In a quest for rapid economic growth, development of modern technologies has been playing a determining  role. In the process of accelerating urbanization and industrialization, one should not forget that protecting the environment should be given importance as well. With increasing population, demand for bricks for construction is also increasing, thereby established brick kilns deteriorate natural resources such as soil, water and air.

The kilns are also undoubtedly posing a risk to people’s health: many people in the concerned villages (especially children) are suffering from asthma, jaundice and other ailments. The huge number of kilns in Beewah-Budgam villages is a big challenge for the administration to deal with.  The abundant flora and fauna, natural landscape, greenery, meadows were turned obsolete due to the day and night movement of tippers and others big vehicles with bricks. The daily lives of the residents has become hectic and several families have already migrated to other, safer places. The continuous movement of vehicles has turned the road connecting Budgam and Beerwah into a terrible condition.

A brick kiln worker (left); social activist Syed Karar Hashmi (right)

The mushrooming of these brick kilns is a matter of great concern and needs urgent attention. The Deputy Commissioner of the Budgam Miss Syed Sehrish and other higher are requested to take immediate steps against mushrooming of brick kilns in the concerned area without further delay.We also request the authorities to come up with a strategy to protect the environment and the agricultural lands without beating around the bush.


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