KARACHI: The Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) recently sealed a number of brick kilns operating in Mirpurkhas and Hyderabad districts with restrictions on further operation.
The action has been taken as part of an ongoing crackdown on brick kilns in the province that are operating without necessary Sepa approvals.
According to Sepa director-general Naeem Ahmed Mughal, "We have to make sure [brick kilns'] compliance with environment laws and the recent crackdown is against all those brick kilns which are operating against the Environment Protection Orders (EPOs)."
Talking to The Express Tribune, he said we have started a crackdown to shut brick kilns in the province as they are not environmental friendly and hazardous to a large number of populations living in the proximity. "We received complaints from residents living near the brick kilns of locals suffering with multiple diseases due to the pollution caused by them," he informed.
He said only those brick kilns will be allowed to operate which will follow Sepa guidelines. According to the guidelines, brick kilns should operate at least five kilometres away from residential areas and those that have now been surrounded by residential areas due to expansion of towns and cities should also move away from the population. Moreover, the fuel used for burning should be in accordance with the law and Sepa approved.
Mughal said, "The 30 brick kilns in Hyderabad and four in Mirpurkhas that were sealed [two weeks ago] were burning coal, solid waste, plastic, rubber, old tires, garbage and scrap material for fuel which is hazardous, not only for nearby residents but also for animals and crops," he revealed.
Appreciating the efforts of the Sepa team, environment minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro said the brick kiln operators should follow the EPOs and warned violators of strict action in case of non-compliance.
There are a total of 300 brick kilns operating in the province, informed Mughal.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2016.