Brick kilns in Malwa resume work with limited coal stockUpdated: Mar 31, 2020 00:11 IST
Brick kilns in the south Malwa region commenced operations on Monday with a limited stock of coal.
The decision was taken after Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, on Sunday, gave permission to start functioning of brick kilns to avoid movement of migrant workers during the lockdown to avoid further spread of coronavirus.
According to estimation, there are over 600 kilns in south Malwa and each station has a workforce of 125 to 150. No official data is available regarding the number of kilns functioning in the region. Industry sources said that brick kiln sector in Punjab is solely dependent on migrant workers.
Bathinda deputy commissioner B Srinivasan said permission has been granted to run kilns but there is prohibition on sale of bricks. Official sources said that no major movement of migrants was noticed in south Malwa in the last two weeks.
Brick kiln owners said that they agreed to start the kilns after permission was granted by the district authorities for resuming business-related movement during curfew.
However, they said that the existing stock of coal will not last more than 15 days.
Bathinda Brick Kiln Association president Paramjit Singh Sandhu said that they support the workers but most kilns are low on coal stock. He urged the state government to approach the Centre for smooth supply of coal.
“Following the lockdown, coal supply was disrupted without any notice. As kilns were to start functioning around April 15, we were in the process to sourcing coal,” he said.
Ruldu Singh, who owns a kiln at Khiala in Mansa, said it will not be possible to run kilns for a long period “None of the kilns in region have coal stock for more than 15-20 days. But, to help the workers, the association has unanimously decided to provide them with dry ration,” he said.
“Since sale of bricks is banned right now, we will not be able to pay wages to the workers. But we have started providing them with dry ration for two weeks and daily supply of milk. The association assures the district administration to support workers and practice social distancing,” he added.
Another kiln owner of Balluana village, Rajinder Singh, said the administration should allow functioning of flour mills at villages to facilitate dry ration to workers.