Bricks sold at exorbitant rates, administration in deep slumber

Kiln owners call shots, earn extra bucks in crores

Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar, July 3: The bricks in Kashmir are being sold at exorbitant rates with administration in deep slumber despite hue and cry by the common man.
The bricks are being sold between Rs 28, 000 to Rs 31, 000 per 3000 when the Government had fixed the price at Rs 21, 000.
The DC Budgam had last year fixed (vide his office order No. DCB/Brick Kilns/2020/54, dated 21.08.2020) Rs 21000 rate per 3000 bricks including all taxes except transportation.
There are over 300 brick kilns in Kashmir with around 250 in Central Kashmir district of Budgam and according to a conservative estimate, around 30 million bricks are being sold daily these days as it is a peak season.
By this estimate, the brick kiln owners are overcharging Rs 10 crore on daily basis from the customers these days. And this Rs 10 crore is not being taxed at all.
Although last year, there was some check on the prices as administration registered cases against several brick kiln owners for over charging the customers. This year, the rates are not coming down despite availability of bricks in bulk at the kilns as administration has become silent spectator.
Javed Ahmad, a resident of Srinagar, said that he had been delaying the construction of his house for last few months with the hope that the prices of bricks will come down. “Now the new crop of bricks is out and they are available at every kiln but the prices have instead gone up”, he said.
“I got bricks for Rs 31, 000 which is Rs 10, 000 more than the Government rate. The receipt was given for Rs 21, 000 only. Where is the administration?” he asked.
“When I asked the brick kiln owner that rate is Rs 21, 000 only, he refused to sell me bricks. He told me that we are 300 brick kiln owners with huge money, what can administration do to us”, he said.
Nisar Hussain, who constructs house in Budgam said that his village is surrounded by brick kilns but for last two month he is not getting them. “Hundreds of trucks carrying bricks are passing through our village daily but when I go to the kiln, they ask me to wait for two weeks as rates would come down. This has been happening since April and my construction is stuck”, he added.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole, when asked about steep hike in brick prices told Excelsior that the Deputy Commissioner Budgam is the enforcing authority on regulating the prices.
Deputy Commissioner Budgam, Shahbaz Mirza, didn’t respond to repeated calls and Whatsup message on brick prices.