Like a tonne of bricks

  • 14/07/2005

The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (wbpcb) has directed brick kilns located within 1.6 kilometre radius of mango orchards to stop work for four months of a year. The order has been issued in compliance with the Supreme Court (sc) and Calcutta High Court (hc) orders. The February to May limited ban on nearly 150 brick kilns will coincide with the period of mango fruition, flowering and development. "The board took the decision in December 2004. Mango growers of Hooghly and North 24-Parganas had lodged complaints, following which an inquiry was conducted,' says Biswajit Mukherjee, senior law officer, wbpcb. The wbpcb issued the direction after a meeting with Bengal Brickfield Owners Association on December 20, 2004. Kilns of Maldah and Hooghli will be worst hit.

In 2000, mango growers of Barbaria village in North 24-Parganas district, famous for the Himsagar variety of mangoes, filed a writ petition in hc, seeking a direction to the pollution control board to stop the damage caused by brick kilns. The hc directed wbpcb to check pollution emission from kilns and consult an expert of Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya in the matter. The hc, on April 20, 2004, also sought a report from a government team, headed by the director of agriculture, on the effect of smoke and fumes on mango plants. The team's report, submitted on May 15, 2004, confirmed the damage caused by kiln fumes: "The characteristic formation of etiolated and blackened lesions at the distal end of the mango fruits sharply indicates a disorder named black tip of mango, which inhibits the growth of the fruit,' it said.

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