*Admn left with no option but to order closure of units
JAMMU, Dec 25: Adopting the confrontational path, majority of the brick kiln operators have been openly defying the notices issued by the Deputy Commissioners on seeking environment clearance, which has been made mandatory by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and National Green Tribunal (NGT). Now, the administration has been left with no other option but to order closure of such units as soft-stance would amount to indirectly contributing to the environment degradation.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) early this year made preparation of proper Mining Plan by each and every brick kiln operating in the country as mandatory with the sole objective of ensuring that their activities don’t result into environment degradation. It was also specifically directed by the NGT that the licenses of brick kilns shall be renewed only after grant of environmental clearance.
Keeping in view these directives of National Green Tribunal, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) vide its Notification No.190 (E) dated January 20, 2016 and OM dated March 15, 2016 read with Notification No. SO 141(E) dated January 15, 2016 mandated the setting up of District Expert Appraisal Committee (DEAC) and District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA) for the purpose of processing and granting environmental clearance to all activities associated with quarrying and excavation of minor minerals.
It was specially mentioned in these notifications that environment clearance shall henceforth be a pre-requisite for obtaining renewal of brick kiln licenses.
It is pertinent to mention here that District Magistrate is the Chairman of the District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA) and its mandate is to accord environmental clearance within 45 days of receipt of recommendations from District Expert Appraisal Committee (DEAC), which shall meet at least once every month to scrutinize the documents placed before it by the brick kiln operators. The DEAC is headed by Executive Engineer, Irrigation Department.
In Jammu district where around 190 brick kilns are operating (maximum in any district of the State), the Chairman of District Envir-onment Impact Assessment Authority (Deputy Commissi-oner) vide Notice No.1629-31/DMJ/10/2016-17 dated October 26, 2016 asked all the brick kiln license holders to apply before District Expert Appraisal Committee within 30 days failing which action as warranted under rules shall be initiated, sources said.
Similarly, in Kathua district where around 36 brick kilns are operating, the Chairman of DEIAA (Deputy Commissioner) vide Notice No.DCK/Acctt/ 2016-17/184 dated October 28, 2016 issued notices to all the brick kiln license holders in the district to apply before DEAC within 30 days with the warning that in case of non-compliance to this notice action as warranted under rules shall be initiated.
It was brought to the notice of all brick kiln license holders that it shall be mandatory for them to seek renewal of their licenses in terms of both the Jammu and Kashmir Brick Kiln Regulation Act and notifications of Union Ministry of Environment and Forest. Even the prescribed format was made available to the brick kiln operators so as to facilitate them in early completion of formalities and submission of necessary documents, sources said.
However, there was no compliance from the brick kiln license holders which compelled the Deputy Commissioners to issue final show-cause notices mentioning that non-renewal of licenses has rendered brick kilns illegal. By exercising the powers conferred under J&K Brick Kilns (Regulation) Act, 2010, they were asked to show-cause as to why their licenses be not revoked for non-compliance of conditions laid down for renewal of licenses.
“Only six brick kiln license holders have responded to the show-cause notice in Jammu district while as none in the Kathua district till date thereby clearly indicating that instead of adhering to the directives of MoEF and National Green Tribunal they are hell bent to defy the notices of Deputy Commissioners”, sourc-es said, adding “keeping in view the defiant attitude of brick kiln operators the administration has been left with no other option much to take stern action against them”.
They disclosed that administration is going to issue closure notices to all those brick kiln license holders who have yet not come forward in compliance to repeated notices. “Giving any relaxation to the brick kiln operators would amount to contributing to environment degradation, which otherwise has become a major issue across the country”, sources said.
They hoped that State Government would understand the spirit behind the directives of NGT and MoEF and make sure that the brick kiln operators strictly adhere to the directives.