Polluting brick kilns to shut down for good after June 2018: EPCA
The Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), in a recent meeting with authorities of Delhi-NCR, said that polluting brick kilns will be given one last window to operate — from March to June 2018 — after which they will be shut down permanently.
Officials estimate that there are currently around 2,080 brick kilns in Delhi-NCR, including 700 in Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar and Hapur districts.
“Anybody converted to zigzag system, certified by the pollution control boards and cleared by EPCA is allowed to operate during the winter season. From March 1 to June 30, the brick kilns which have not converted, but have given affidavits that they will convert or they will operate only till June 30 on the old technology will be allowed to operate. After June 30, no brick kilns which are operating on old technology will be allowed,” EPCA member Sunita Narain said.
The technology involved in zigzag kilns forces the air to spend more time inside the kiln. This ensures that there is a good transfer of heat, the emissions remain low, and that a high percentage of good quality bricks are produced. According to experts zigzag technology reduces pollution by 70-80%.
“A three-member team will be formed with one representative each from the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), and an outside consultant. They will compile a report on the conversions that have happened. It has to be ensured that the conversion is complete,” Narain said.
The brick industry is one of the five largest industrial consumers of coal, and there are serious environmental concerns associated with the production of fired clay bricks. Even though there have hardly been any study to quantify how much brick kilns contribute to Delhi’s air pollution, experts say that this sector contributes a significant portion to the PM2.5 levels.
As a measure under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) for ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ categories of pollution, which came into force on October 17 for the first time, all brick kilns in NCR have been ordered shut down. Only those utilising zigzag technology have been exempted.
At present, under EPCA directions, state pollution control boards are identifying each brick kiln in NCR areas with GPS locations and are verifying if they are running on cleaner technology. If it’s zigzag compliant, the brick kiln’s name is sent to EPCA, which in turn issues a “consent to operate letter” to the kiln.
The Supreme Court, in an order in 1996, had directed all kilns operating in Delhi to be shut down. As a result, the brick kilns moved to areas bordering the capital like Ghaziabad, Noida, Bhagpat and Meerut.