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NGT Directs Maharashtra Govt to Shutdown Unauthorised Brick Kilns

Unauthorised Brick Kilns

On April 18, a National Green Tribunal bench headed by its chairperson, Adarsh Kumar Goel, directed the Central and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to shut down the unauthorised brick kilns operating in the environmentally sensitive zones of Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary and Tansa River floodplains. The order was passed in response to a petition filed by a local NGO, Vanashakti, in 2018.

In the petition, the NGO alleged that unauthorised brick kilns were operating in the sensitive zones in Thane and Palghar districts and were indulging in prohibited practices such as using pet coke, and excavating soil from the nearby areas and extracting groundwater. Both the Central and the State pollution control boards conceded that the brick kilns were operating in violation of existing laws and did not have the mandatory Consent to Operate (CTO).

In February this year, the Centre issued a set of fresh guidelines to operate brick kilns. These included spacing out units one kilometre apart, using the ash generated to for making fly-ash bricks and Piped Natural Gas (PNG) as a fuel source. Additionally, brick kilns are required to declare their production capacity and need to possess CTO.

“We find merit in the stand of the applicant that brick kilns can be allowed only subject to the conditions as having been laid down by the Supreme Court. Further, in view of (Tungareshwar) ESZ Notification dated September 11, 2019, a brick kiln at a prohibited distance from ESZ in terms of the said Notification cannot be allowed,” reads the NGT order.

The tribunal further directed the Maharashtra government to recover the penalties from the kiln operators for violation of the law and directed the pollution control boards to exercise greater vigilance to prevent the repetition of such incidents.

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