Illegal Brick Kilns Replacing Almond Orchards


Budgam: Villagers from scores of Chadoora hamlets in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district are up in arms against government for allowing brick kilns to operate illegally at Bugam Nowbugh, Gowharpora, Kralchek, Kanismal, Brargund, Wadipora area. The locals from accused some officials from Budgam district administration of giving free hand to destroy almond orchards in the district and allowing some influential persons to operate brick kilns illegally.

 “Leave aside the pollution problem; these brick kiln owners have destroyed the orchards and greenery of the area. When government wants to close down the old brick kilns, how come new brick kilns have been coming up,” said a group of people.

Surprisingly, in different areas of Chadoora Tehsil, sixteen new brick kilns have come up illegally during unrest in Kashmir. The brick kiln owners have not secured ‘No Objection Certificates’ (NOC) from any of the government department. The irony is that, after securing land on rental basis, these brick kiln owners fell all the almond trees. “We don’t have any objection when they (brick kiln owners) compensate us for the losses,” said a farmer.

The farmers said that they were forced to handover their almond orchards to brick kiln owners on rent as government didn’t provide them assistance under any scheme. “We had applied for loans and had sought financial assistance from the government, but nobody listen to us. We are unable to maximize profits through these almond orchards. At least we are able to generate some income from the owners of the brick kilns on monthly basis,” Ghulam Muhammad Dar who has destroyed all the almond trees in his field, said.

Locals accused both district administration and the State Pollution Control Board of being insensitive towards this grave matter. “When you can use force to disperse a peaceful protest, why can’t you take assistance of police to deal with this brick kiln mafia. The fact is that brick kilns operate illegally in connivance with some district officials,” said locals. They warned that huge population of Budgam will hit to streets soon, if brick kilns are not closed down in the district.

Some of the owners of these illegally run brick kilns refused to comment on the issue. Deputy Commissioner Budgam Altaf Ahmed said that they are closing down the old brick kilns and there is no room for anyone to set up a new brick kiln. “It is a serious matter that will be looked into,” he said.

A senior district official on condition of anonymity said that all these brick kilns came up last year during unrest. “In fact we were in slumber but now measures are being taken to curb the activities of these brick kiln owners. “Already, non-bailable warrants have been issued against the owners of these brick kilns. The matter is serious and these brick kilns need to be shut down without any delay,” he said. Pertinently, more than 350 brick kilns are operational in the district.

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