In order to check air pollution in non-attainment cities and towns across the state, the Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday approved a draft action plan for conversion of natural draft brick kilns to induced draft brick kilns with rectangular shape and zigzag brick setting by Punjab State Council for Science & Technology. Brick kilns have been given till September 30, 2019, to make the conversion.
The decision, taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, is in line with the directions of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) regarding prevention and control of air pollution in such cities and towns.
The draft order had been proposed to regulate the process of conversion of brick kilns to induced draft technology with zigzag setting under section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Accordingly, the proposed directions include: the brick kilns within non-attainment cities will not be allowed to operate in pursuance of directions issued by the CPCB on July 1, 2016, no new brick kiln will be allowed to be established in the state without having induced draft technology with zigzag setting, and no conventional brick kiln with natural draft technology will be allowed to operate beyond September 30, 2019.
The brick kilns in the process of conversion to induce draft technology with zigzag setting/yet to start the process intending to operate the brick kiln are required to pay environmental compensation on the basis of `polluter pays principle’ to the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) with effect from February 1, 2019, till the adoption of induced draft technology. The compensation has been set Rs. 25,000 per month for zig zag setting with kiln of capacity equal to more than 30,000 bricks per day and Rs. 20,000 per month for kiln of capacity less than 30,000 bricks per day.
The PPCB would ensure that the brick kilns are operated in compliance with the code of practice prescribed by the CPCB, as well as the state board. The Department of Food and Civil Supplies, being the licensing authority, would create awareness and mobilise the brick kiln for conversion to induced draft technology with zigzag setting.
The Department of Science & Technology, through Punjab State Council for Science & Technology, would provide necessary technical assistance for implementation of the action plan. The Department of Power would ensure 15 HP power connections as required by the brick kilns for running the induced draft fan. The Deputy Commissioners would monitor the progress of the activities to be performed under the action plan at the district level.
The action plan provides for expanding outreach at district level, engagement of Technology Provider (TP) by brick kilns, submission of feasibility reports & drawings to industry by TP, conversion of conventional brick kilns to induced draft brick kiln, issuance of completion/adequacy/provisional certificates to the industry, awareness & capacity building program, besides Monitoring and Governance at District and State level.
As per the current status of conversion of brick kilns in the state provided by the Punjab State Council for Science & Technology, 482 brick kilns had already converted to new technology and 559 were in pipeline for shifting to induced draft technology.
Notably, around 2800 brick kilns are operating in Punjab, producing around 15-20 billion bricks per annum. This constitutes about 8% of total production of the country and the brick kiln industry employs about 0.5-0.6 million workers.