LAHORE: Punjab environment protection department has decided to check construction of old technology Bull Trench brick kilns in the province, officials told Dawn.

Officials said the decision was taken in a meeting held in the EPD committee room to discuss the issue of pollution being caused by brick kilns and the strategy for promoting Zig-Zag Firing Brick Kiln (ZFBK).

EPD Director Nasimur Rehman Shah apprised the meeting participants that the department was trying to resolve the issues faced by the brick kiln owners in the technology shift.

The EPD was revising its Annual Development Programme (ADP) scheme previously initiated as “Construction of Model Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln in Collaboration with the Punjab Brick Kiln Association to mainly focus on the Zig-Zag Firing Technology and to provide maximum technical support to the association in this regard.

He said consultants would be hired for technical assistance in this regard. He apprised the meeting that a Technology Transfer Institute was being established in the EPD wherein experts would be hired to suggest feasible, environment-friendly technologies to be adopted by different industries, including the brick kiln industry.

All Pakistan Brick Kiln Association (APBKA) president Shoaib Khan Niazi informed the meeting that a team of the association had recently visited Nepal in association with ICIMOD to study the zig-zag firing technology.

He said that four model zig-zag brick kilns were being installed in Punjab. Two of such brick kilns were located in Raja Jang, one in Rawalpindi and another in More Khunda. He said the association lacked the technical expertise required to shift the conventional units to the zig-zag technology.

He said the association was facing hindrances in supply of exhaust fans and provision of electricity connections required for the new technology. The emission tests would be carried out as soon as these issues were resolved, he added. He said the new technology had proved successful in various other Asian countries, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, etc.

Mr Niazi proposed that model kilns with new technology should be installed with the government’s support in the big districts of Punjab as early as possible.

ZFT brick kilns were 30 percent fuel efficient and their emissions were also 60pc less, as compared to the conventional brick kilns, he added. He said APBKA might also work in partnership with the World Bank and Punjab government to execute pilot projects.

EPD Director General Asif Iqbal pledged full support of his department to the association both in terms of human and capital resources for conversion of all traditional brick kilns to the new technology to address the problem of environmental pollution in the province.

He said installation of no new brick kiln would be allowed without the zig-zag technology in the province and all the conventional units must be shut during the smog season as suggested by the association.

The meeting decided that the EPD would issue directions to its field formations to check construction of illegal brick kilns in Punjab.

No new brick kiln would be allowed without environmental approval to be issued by the EPD, taking APBKA on board.

It also decided that a joint awareness campaign would be launched at divisional level to create awareness among the brick kiln owners about the new technology.

The meeting also resolved to carry out extensive tree plantation around every brick kiln in a joint venture by APBKA and the EPD next plantation season.

The existing brick kilns operating on conventional technology would be shut during the smog season (November and December), it decided.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2018