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NGT: Action against Mathura’s brick kilns for flouting environmental norms

mathura brick kilns violating environment norms

Kiln bricking is a widespread practice in Uttar Pradesh. In addition, the state is among the largest producers of bricks in India. While the kiln technology used in the state has improved over the years, the industry still faces significant environmental and social challenges.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently issued an order against brick kilns operating in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh for violating environmental norms. The order came in response to a petition filed by local residents. They complained about the harmful impact of the brick kilns on the environment and their health.

They found that the brick kilns in Mathura were operating without obtaining necessary clearances from the Pollution Control Board. Furthermore, they were violating the guidelines for emission standards. The order also noted that the brick kilns were contributing to air pollution, causing respiratory problems for residents in the surrounding areas.

Brick kilns contribute to air pollution and respiratory problems

Brick kilns release a range of pollutants into the atmosphere, including particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide. These pollutants can cause respiratory problems, aggravate existing health conditions, and contribute to the formation of smog and acid rain.

According to a study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, brick kilns in Uttar Pradesh use a range of fuels, including coal, biomass, and agricultural waste, with biomass being the most commonly used fuel. The study found that kiln emissions contribute to significant air pollution in the state, with particulate matter being the most significant pollutant.

Mathura's brick kilns
Brick kilns| Image by Bishnu Sarangi from Pixabay

Another study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found that brick kilns in Uttar Pradesh often operate without proper licenses and flout environmental regulations. The study reported that brick kilns use outdated technologies and practices. This was leading to significant greenhouse gas emissions, as well as soil and water pollution.

The CSE study also highlighted the social and economic challenges faced by workers in the brick kiln industry. Many workers, including children, are forced to work in hazardous conditions, with little or no access to basic facilities such as healthcare and education. This draws our attention that kiln bricking in Uttar Pradesh is a significant environmental and social challenge that requires urgent attention and regulation. The industry must adopt cleaner and more sustainable technologies. In addition, workers’ rights and working conditions must be improved to ensure a safer and more sustainable future.

Mathura's brick kilns
Bonded Labour in a Brick Kiln in Uttar Pradesh | Photo: Flickr

Pollution Control Board to ensure compliance with regulations

The NGT directed the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board to conduct regular inspections of the brick kilns and ensure that they comply with environmental norms. The NGT also instructed the district administration to take action against any brick kilns found to be flouting the regulations. The NGT’s order is an important step towards curbing the harmful impact of brick kilns on the environment and public health.

The Mathura case highlights the urgent need for stricter regulation and enforcement of environmental norms to address the growing problem of air pollution in India. The government and regulatory bodies must work together to ensure that industries comply with environmental standards and that violators are held accountable.

Conclusion

The NGT’s order against the brick kilns in Mathura is a welcome step in the right direction toward a cleaner and healthier environment. It is hoped that this will serve as a wake-up call for other industries to take responsibility for their impact on the environment and comply with the regulations to safeguard public health.

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