Increasing Number Of Brick Kilns Around Srinagar Airport Pose Risk To Flights

Mushrooming of brick kilns in the vicinity of the Srinagar airport, a defence installation, has given rise to aviation safety concerns and environmental degradation.
The black fumes emanating from the furnaces of these brick kilns have prompted the authorities at the Air Force Station, Srinagar, to shoot a letter to the civilian administration to stop these activities.
“The brick kilns operating around Air Force Station, Srinagar, are emitting large quantities of smoke and particulate matter. This smog has a direct adverse effect on the environment and in-flight visibility during the terminal stage of the flight. It has been noticed that during the last decade, the number of brick kilns is rapidly increasing,” the letter written to Kashmir divisional commissioner on March 21 reads.
The letter also mentions that the local apple growers had made a representation to the Air Force Station against setting up new brick kilns around residential and orchard areas.
“There are illegal brick kiln constructions going on here. The pollution control board initially ruled against setting up the kilns but after six months gave consent for them. We fail to understand how they have given consent for such activity on horticulture and agriculture land. This pollution from the kilns is a threat to our farming. Our livelihood is dependent on this farming,” Mukhtar Ahmad Bhat, a farmer, said.
Bashir Ahmad, another farmer, said some people want to establish brick kilns here for their personal gains.
“Our orchards will be destroyed because of pollution. This is not only a threat to the environment but also hazardous to our health. Our only demand is that no brick kiln should be allowed here,” he said.
Hundreds of fruit-bearing trees are felled to set up one brick kiln and there are dozens of these units in the fertile lands of Budgam around the airport.
The residents are thankful to the local administration for taking timely action in shutting down some of the illegal kilns.
Abdul Gani Bhat, who opted for farming after completing his education, said the government should provide him with a job if they allow the kilns to operate in the area.
“I am educated and I opted for farming. The government should provide me with a job and I will leave this. They can give the land to whoever they want. Rs 40 lakh has been invested in this high-density apple orchard… On one hand, they are encouraging farmers with schemes and subsidies but on the other hand, they are encouraging people for brick kilns as well,” he added.
SDM, Chadoora, P N Hamid said no new brick kilns have been established as of now.
“There are a good number of brick kilns which are already existing there. There are norms in place, strict norms under the brick kilns act under which these kilns operate. The pollution control board has given them environmental clearance based on which the deputy commissioner issued the licence. To my knowledge, no new brick kilns are being established,” he added.
Hamid said the administration swiftly acted when a complaint was received that some persons were digging agricultural land in Rangeen Kultreh area for setting up a brick kiln.
Asked about the letter from the Air Force Station, the officer said he had no knowledge about it.
“I have no idea about it. They would have written to Budgam Deputy Commissioner,” he said.