DB directs brick kiln owners to develop green belts

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Apr 20: In a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) highlighting degradation of environment due to the activities of brick kilns, Division Bench of State High Court comprising Acting Chief Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar and Justice Sanjeev Kumar has directed the brick kiln owners to comply with the requirement of developing green belt consisting of three rows of evergreen broadleaved trees around the periphery of the brick kilns.
When the PIL came up for hearing, Division Bench observed, “primary issue that arises for consideration is with regard to brick kilns running without proper licenses and without the consent of the State Pollution Control Board”, adding “there is another aspect of the matter that almost all the brick kilns have not complied with the specific and general conditions imposed at the time of grant of licenses by the competent authority and the grant of consent by the Pollution Board”.
“As per District Magistrate Jammu notices to 122 brick kilns have been issued to produce the consent from the State Pollution Control Board and failure to do so will result in closure of the units”, DB observed and directed the authorities concerned to pursue this matter with all earnest.
DB also directed all the District Magistrates/ District Collectors to follow this pattern adopted by the District Magistrate/ District Collector, Jammu, and issue notices wherever the brick kilns are being run without the consent from the State Pollution Control Board. The District Magistrates/ Deputy Commissioners of all the districts shall file their compliance reports before the next date of hearing.
“Insofar as the establishment of the brick kilns is concerned, it appears there are several stages. If the land is other than the land specified for mining purposes and if the land is sought to be converted, there is a procedure to be followed. However, before proceeding to consider the license for mining of the brick earth in terms of the Central Government Notification 141 (E) dated 15.01.2016 and 190(E) dated 20.01.2016, the District Environment Impact Assessment Authority of the district  has to accord consideration for clearance and subject to such clearance by the DEIAA, the matter goes to the State Pollution Control Board  for its consent”, the DB said, adding “the Pollution Board has also provided certain guidelines for grant of consent which have been uploaded on the website”.
Amongst the various guidelines, Clause IV of the guidelines reads: The brick kiln owners shall develop green belt consisting of three rows of evergreen broadleaved trees around the periphery of the brick kilns in staged manner. Minimum spacing between plants in a row shall be three meters and between the rows it shall be at least two meters.
“The Pollution Control Board shall insist that before consent is granted planting of trees shall be made as a condition precedent by all the brick kiln manufacturers. The Social Forestry Department has given the list of the trees which could be planted”, the DB said, adding “the trees should be planted based on the availability of species. The supply of plants will be made by the Divisional Forest Officer, State Forest Research Institute and the Divisional Forest Officer, Social Forestry Division, Jammu. The District Magistrate/ District Collector and the State Pollution Control Board shall also ensure that the trees are planted as a condition precedent for grant of clearance/consent and the license”.
“The applicants, whose applications are pending clearance for consent, for grant of fresh license or renewal of license already granted, shall also comply with the requirement of planting trees”, DB said.