ISLAMABAD - All Pakistan Brick Kiln Association (APBKA) President Shoaib Niazi said that the kiln owners, despite their keenness for conversion of their furnace over Zigzag technology, had not been assured of assistance from the quarters concerned as they had no expertise in developing the latest infrastructure.

Talking to APP, Shoaib Niazi said, “We [brick kiln proprietors] have realized the harmful impacts of the dark smoke emitted by the kiln by various exhortations and negotiations by the government institutions. Some of the kiln owners also started to build their brick-ovens over zigzag method failed due to lack of knowledge and expertise over the method.”

He said that during the shutdown of kilns the brick labourers were not left in the lurch without business. However, they continued to work whereas the unbaked bricks were put into storage that had impact over its quality.

To a question, he said the brick kilns remained closed till December 31, 2018 while the labourers were paid their wages regularly as per their contract. “The brick makers are bound to make proper bricks and once they are formed it’s now the responsibility of the furnace owner to manage baking of the bricks. This shutdown had caused heavy losses to us but we are still ready to contribute our share to make the country climate change resilient”. “It is my dream to make my country smog free and pollution resilient country. If we managed to secure a single life from controlling dark emissions then it would serve my purpose,” he remarked.

He said earlier we on our own expenses managed to visit the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), a regional intergovernmental learning and knowledge sharing centre, serving the eight regional member countries of the Hindu Kush Himalaya – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan, and based in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The ICIMOD officials imparted technical knowledge to us mainly the brick kiln owners on how to operate the furnace using zigzag technology which did not help that much as most of the people were less educated and lacked expertise to tackle the matter, he added. The ICIMOD experts also visited Pakistan earlier and imparted technical education to various brick kiln owners whereas they are scheduled to visit this year, he added.

 “Few brick kiln owners tried to convert their kilns over the zigzag technology but failed as they did not manage to properly implement the technology which consequently produced unbaked bricks and it jeopardized their business and livelihood,” he informed.

He said that we suggested that the government should have built model brick kilns across the country in its various regions that would have served as learning place for other furnace owners to train their workers and convert their own brick baking units on zigzag technology which was both economic and efficient.

At present, he said, “The blower used to maintain temperature inside the kiln costs around Rs 1 million which breaks down 10 to 15 days and adds more to the financial losses are already borne by us. Neither any financial nor technical support has been provided by the government.”

Director General Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (PAK-EPA) Farzana Altaf Shah said that the nation should thank Shoaib Niazi for his role in convincing his association members [Brick owners] to halt their furnaces for 70 days as no one bothers to shut his business for a single day but they bore the brunt of huge financial losses for a national and global humanitarian cause.

She said in the federal capital the kilns were closed till January 15, 2019, however 2 kiln owners resisted the shutdown in I-16 Sector where EPA teams reached on the spot and filled their furnaces with water as penalty as per law.

“We are lucky enough that this year smog spell did not gain momentum as the Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam took adequate measures to prevent its impact since August, 2018. Hence, the mitigation measures were in time and prior to the season unlike the earlier practices,” she remarked.