EIA exemption leaves brick kiln industry divided

The decision of the environment ministry to relax rules for mining brick as well as ordinary earth has not gone down well with a section of the industry. Though bringing the industry in B2 category will exempt it from Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), many brick kiln owners say it still does not give them blanket green nod.

"This is a small-scale business and a seasonal one. The ministry's order is hardly a relief. We want to be kept out of the entire environmental clearance requirements set by MoEF. Instead set up a separate authority to keep a watch on brick kilns or mining that may hurt an area's water table or change a river course," said Chaudhary Hemant Kumar Singh who runs brick kilns in Uttar Pradesh.

Om Vir Bhati, secretary, UP Brick Kilns Association, said the new order further complicates the issue by bringing in norms for mining clusters that mandates 500 m distance between each mine. "The earlier SC orders on mining were to regulate commercial mining. Our industry is a small one. The MoEF puts us almost on a par with large-scale mining operations," Bhati said.

However, the president of All India Brick & Tile Manufacturers Federation, Amarinder Singh Chamak, said the ministry has taken the best possible route. "EIA exemption is a considerable relief. What is more, even the conditions stipulated in the new order are already largely being adhered to. Though we don't not have full exemption, I think this is a fair deal", Chamak said.

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