Kiln conversion proving inadequate | The Express Tribune


Despite government claims of converting all brick kilns in Punjab to zigzag technology, smoke from the units continues to cause pollution and smog.

Environmental officials say the owners stop blowers to save fuel and electricity, while the Kiln Owners Association has challenged the government claim of having completed the work required to change the technology.

Hundreds of kiln owners in different districts of Punjab have been fined millions of rupees in recent weeks for not employing the zigzag technology and over emission of fumes from the kilns. The action by the Punjab Environmental Protection Department raised questions about claims that the brick kilns have been converted to zigzag technology.

Pakistan Kiln Owners Association secretary-general Meher Abdul Haq said while speaking to The Express Tribune that the claim that all kilns were converted to zigzag technology was not correct.

He said only air blowers were installed but the required construction work had not been done in many units, nor were the bricks being arranged in a zigzag manner.

He claimed that over 70 per cent of the kilns in Punjab had not been fully converted to zigzag technology.

Environment Department District Officer Ali Ijaz said 7,410 brick kilns in the province had been inspected since October 7, among which fine had been imposed against 911, 363 were sealed and legal proceedings were initiated against 46 owners.

However, Punjab Environment Secretary Syed Mubashir Hussain said the official statistics regarding the conversion of kilns to zigzag technology were correct. He said installation of blowers to increase air flow in the units had been completed.

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He said the second task was to fill the bricks in zigzag style instead of the old method. This work has to be done by the kiln owners.

The official said the kiln owners stopped the blowers to save electricity and fuel. He also alleged that the owners used hazardous coal that produced black smoke. Action is taken against people involved in such practices.

Owners’ leader Meher Abdul Haq said commercial electric connection, generator and civil work were necessary for completing the conversion and investment of millions of rupees was needed for the purpose.

He said the Punjab government had repeatedly promised to provide subsidies and loans on easy terms for the purpose but had not ensured the facilities. The kiln owners were also told that they could take loans through the Kamyab Javan Programme.

He said the owners’ association had invited experts from Japan who had trained local kiln operators about the changes required. Those trained in the the first phase will now train other people.

The owner said the adoption of zigzag technology was not possible without the construction work and training.

Meanwhile, the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) instead of wood as fuel in kilns has also been successfully tested to control pollution. About 30 LPG cylinders have been used to ignite fires in kilns in Kasur and Jaranwala. It usually takes over three maunds of wood to start the fire. Experts say the use of LPG will not only help save wood and coal but also contribute to curbing pollution.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2021.

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