Chandigarh: Brick kiln owners on Wednesday asked the Punjab government to take up the issue of excluding brick earth from the category of minor minerals with the Union Environment and Forests Ministry.
They said that it is "unfeasible" for them to take environment clearance for brick kiln operations as mandated by the Supreme Court.
The apex court in February 27 order had ruled that the states and Union Territories can now grant leases for mining minor minerals in less than 5 hectares or renew them only after prior approval from the Union Environment Ministry.
Brick kiln owners said that following the SC order, all brick kiln owners in the state require to get an environment clearance to excavate earth from any land.
"Getting environment clearance is a long drawn process and it will take a minimum of 13 months for any brick kiln unit to get the environment impact assessment done and get a environment clearance. Thus, we will have to stop production of bricks till the time we get this clearance," said Kuldip Singh Makkar, president of Punjab Brick Kiln Owners Association in a release issued here.
He said the Centre has recently brought brick earth (earth used for making bricks) also under the category of minor minerals.
Makkar said for getting environment clearance, each unit will have to spend around Rs 5 lakh which would directly affect the pricing of brick.
He said 3000 odd brick kilns in the state are facing an eminent closure which could impact infrastructure and real estate sector. An average of 15 crore bricks are produced in Punjab daily.
Makkar also demanded that the state government give them at least a month’s time to take legal recourse, before the department of Mines starts acting against the brick kiln owners not taking the environment clearance.