Even as one group of brick kilns owners is claiming that “mafia” is putting hindrance in their work, another group has now claimed that closure of the brick kilns across Punjab was a unanimous decision of owners as they wanted required environmental clearance to start these kilns.
In August, the Brick Kiln Owners’ Association, Punjab, had decided that the kilns of the state should remain closed as there was a stay by the National Green Tribunal on their operations. The association had also demanded from the state government that mining policy should not be applied on kilns.
Currently, there is enough stock with several brick kilns as a result there is no cause of worry among the reality sector which was already witnessing a lull. However, a group of brick kiln owners had been claiming for the past many days that brick ‘mafia’ was operating in Ludhiana due to which their business was affected.
Even rallies had taken place in which it was stated by some kiln owners that “mafia” backed by the ruling SAD-BJP alliance was stopping several kilns from operating in Ludhiana.
It has been learnt that getting permissions from different departments, including the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), industries department and the food and supplies department of the district, was a herculean task. The approval could finally be obtained from the union ministry of environment and forest. Sources said several brick kilns especially in Ludhiana were operating without proper permissions.
They said two groups, including the one led by Inderpal Singh Walia, president of Ludhiana District Brick Kiln Owners’ Association, and the other led by Darshan Singh Jawanda, president of District Brick Kiln Owners Association, had complained against each other several times to Mahesh Khanna, general manager of district industries centre.
“While there used to be a common pool among these kiln owners some time ago during which kilns were operated for seven months and extensive stock of bricks stored for usage thereafter. But then due to some problem the pool split and two different groups emerged giving rise to the problem,” sources said.
Sarbjit Singh Dhillon, general secretary of the group led by Walia, said no action was being taken against the brick kilns which were operating even now, despite the fact that it has been declared illegal by the National Green Tribunal. On the other hand, Jawanda claimed in rallies that “mafia” was trying to stop operations of brick kilns to “benefit themselves as they had huge stock of bricks that are being sold in black”.
When contacted, Khanna said permission from different departments was required for a brick kiln to operate.