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Villagers of Pannuchak, a sleepy village located beside NH-80 at Ghogha under Kahalgaon sub division of Bhagalpur are in panic. The symptoms of TB appeared in every family, has spread the mass fear in the village.
Sridhar Mandal, a villager narrated the hamlet has to face the disease from some two-three years with the raising brick kilns in the areas. “Outside people who have their lands in the village have provided lands for the brick kilns and today many of us have a brick kiln at our door steps,” he explained. Dust, smoke and other deadly contains in the air due to the brick kilns have turning people seek in the village.
Like Kahalgaon and its adjourning parts which faces serious threats from fly ash- a by product of coal in NTPC Kahalgaon project, the mushrooming brick kilns in Kahalgaon sub division also posing potent health hazards in the areas.
Echoing the claims of the villagers, BJP’s leaders Dilip Mishra and Yogendra Mandal also alleged that such illegal busing has been flourishing under the active patronage of local administration. “ The situation is very alarming, not only the villagers, even those who pass through this stretch of NH-80, have to face the flying dusts which are very harmful,” Mishra pointed out.
“Earlier in many occasion we approached concerned higher district officials and also the state pollution control board. We underlined the health hazards and another more important aspect of loss of mother soil. But no acting has yet taken to curb this illegal business,” Mishra pointed out.
Despite the efforts taken by NTPC, Kahalgaon unit for utilization of fly ashes in the brick manufacturing units, fewer responses were received from the local brick kilns in this region.
The probe report submitted by circle officer of Kahalgaon has exposed many loop wholes and neglect by the part of department concern which encourage the flourishing of the brick manufacturing units mostly at Ghogha. Earlier such reports in many occasion were submitted to divisional commissioner, Bhagalpur.
The reports usually underlined the violation of several norms by the brick kiln operators and even raised question over the role of state pollution control board, labour department, mining department and local police. Ghoga and its adjourning areas along with other places like Amapur to Shankerpur more than 150 such illegal brick kilns were operated at the road side (NH-80) agriculture lands near densely populated villages, the report pointed out. Majority of the brick kilns even don’t have NOC from state pollution control board and in many cases the operators even grabbed the government lands for their kilns. “Smoke and dusts from the brick kilns proved to be fatal for many in the areas,” the report mentioned.
Not a single competent higher official was not available for his comment and also the not the member secretary of state pollution control board. A brick kiln operator at Ghogha on condition of anonymity claimed that the brick industry provides employment opportunity for many but when asked about the raising pollution, he was tight lipped.
Source from NTPC, Kahalgaon has expressed its serious concerned over the issue. “The traditional brick manufacturing units not only damage the mother soil but also spreading pollutions,” it said. NTPC has been promoting for utilization of fly ashes in brick manufacturing units which are located within 15-20 km radius of the plant.
The source further said that NTPC would put all effort to raise confidence among brick manufacturers for use of ash in brick manufacturing and to popularize the clay ash brick in place of clay brick. The source assured all ash brick entrepreneur to supply ash free of cost for ash brick making.
To enhance ash utilization in building material production and for accelerating cleaner production systems in the building materials sector in Bihar, NTPC Kahalgaon time to time launch demonstration project of ash utilization in clay-ash brick manufacturing. Clay-ash bricks have already started manufactured and demonstration of clay-ash bricks is organized time to time by ash utilization division of NTPC Kahalgaon.
“Almost 65 numbers of brick kiln owners of nearby areas participated in this workshop. Besides Mohapatra N K Sinha, GM (O&M), A K Gupta, Regional Officer of BSPCB, D K Gupta, Head of Ash Utilization division- NTPC Kahalgaon and HODs of NTPC also attended the event,” said Ashim Kumar Das, senior PRO, NTPC Kahalgaon.
A senior ranking official at NTPC, Kahalgaon said that NTPC remained committed to promote the use of ash for manufacturing of bricks. “We can save hectors of fertile top soil by using ash in brick making. The fuel cost is increasing day by day and in this scenario, use of fly ash in clay ash bricks manufacturing can help to save about 5 tonne of coal per lakh bricks,” he pointed out.
Mishra however said that BJP along with its allies would soon launch a massive movement against such illegal roadside episode.
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