Illegal Brick Kilns Mushrooming in Budgam'
Srinagar: Even as the authorities have threatened action against the black marketing of bricks and illegal kilns, several such kilns are coming up in district Budgam, while the prices are shooting up to Rs 7 per brick.
Brick makers say the menace is likely to threaten Kashmir’s Rs 600 crore brick manufacturing industry. When contacted, District Development Commissioner, Budgam, Khursheed A Shah admitted that the government order issued in this behalf, continues to be violated in the district, which houses 205 kilns out of Valley’s total 294 brick making units.
“We are trying to implement the government rates, which are Rs 4400 per thousand for Grad A, and Rs 3100 for Grade B,” Shah said, adding that the violations continue “because the consumers rarely write complaints.” Sources said that over half a dozen new brick kilns have come up in Kaneer Ranger, Kathair Gund, Chitru and Nasrullah Pora areas of the district.
Shah did not rule out illegal constructions of kilns saying that the district administration had insufficient manpower to check the menace. “We don’t have bulldozers to pull down the illegal structures. Police cover is often not available. But we are still trying to implement the government directions as effectively as we could,” he said, adding that a survey was being conducted to list the kilns operating without “proper registration.”
Sources said some brick kilns, which were earlier asked to close down “because they had not official sanction have started functioning again with the official connivance.” The Deputy Commissioner of Budgam, however, said no such complaint was formally lodged with his office. Official records show that there are 205 brick kilns in Budgam, 40 in Pulwama, 35 in Islamabad (Anantnag) and 14 in Kulgam. Average production from each kiln, depending on weather conditions, touches 25 lakh bricks per season.
The industry that directly employs nearly one lakh persons, most of them outsiders, experts say, records an annual turnover of Rs 600 crore. Brick makers have long been lobbying with the government for a “mutually agreed upon rate list”, but the authorities, they allege, have come out with a unilateral tariff.
“We tell them (Govt) let’s mutually discuss and fix a price because the just released price list is illogical. There has been tremendous hike in the prices of raw material especially coal. One truckload of coal now costs Rs 40,000 more than it used to cost last year. If the government agrees to a mutually fixed rate, then that needs to be enforced with seriousness,” said a brick maker from Budgam. (Greater Kashmir)