SIALKOT - The large-scale emission of the black smoke from the burners of brick kilns has been causing environmental pollution in almost all the urban and rural areas thereby increasing health risks in the region.

The environmental pollution caused by the brick kilns is still a big challenge for the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in Sialkot which remains unable to take legal action against the kiln owners.

There are a total of 361 brick kilns in Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial and Pasrur tehsils as most of the kilns established several decades ago there, are now surrounded by thickly populated area in almost all the urban and rural parts of the Sialkot district.

Several people are suffering from short of breath, lungs, chest, stomach and liver diseases due to the black smoke oozing out from the brick kilns. According to the local officials of the Sialkot district administration, the shifting of these brick kilns to other was is possible as their owners are not agreed to do so.

Health experts said that the emission of harmful gases like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter from burning of coals in brick kilns causes serious respiratory diseases like bronchitis and asthma. Moreover, these pollutants weaken the immune system of the human beings and hurt their resistance power to fight the various types of infections.

Dr Javaid said that there is another substance which is called poly-aromatic hydrocarbon that is found in the smoke and it causes vomiting, diarrhea, eye irritation, nausea and disorientation while in the long run it may also cause renal diseases and even cancer.

Dr Sundas Pervaiz revealed that for the people of advanced nations, the concept of brick kiln pollution might be uncommon and they may be thinking how a brick kiln can cause pollution. However, she added, in less developed and backward countries, it is a killer pollution which not only harms the health of the workers of kilns but all those living in its surroundings.

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) officials added that the brick kilns emit more smoke than any other normal factory because here burning process takes long time to solidify the bricks from mud and low quality coal is burnt in the process which causes more pollution.

Some local social workers including Abdul Shakur Mirza, Arif Mehmood Sheikh, Arsalan Khan, Bashir Hussain, Nasir Mehmood and Ghulam Rasul narrated that the working conditions of kiln laborers are the worst. The workers of downtrodden communities without knowledge of their rights and privilege work in the intense heat sans medical facility. If any of them faces burns, no one cares about him/her and layoff is the only solution to relieve him/her from pain. Despite burn injuries, workers keep working without complaining of a problem. Their wages are also next to nothing and they can’t reject petty wages because of their poverty, they added.

Expressing grave concern over the nasty situation, the local protesting people including the human rights activists Shahid Mir, Aliya Hina, Ghazala Adnan, Mian Fareed Masud and Arshad Mehmood Baggu urged Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to take serious note of the situation.

LAB SEALED: The district administration has sealed a private laboratory for issuing fake diagnostic test report to trader Shahid Rafiq.

The local trader had got a hepatitis test report of his son Naveed Rafiq from the lab namely “Abdul Sattar Diagnostic Lab” located at Sialkot city’s Lalazar Chowk. The report revealed that the youth was suffering from the hepatitis A and B.

The family also got the youth’s blood tested from some other diagnostic labs, which declared in the test reports that he was not suffering from the disease. On this, the trader brought the situation into the notice of the district administration of Sialkot and Health Department.

District Health Authority CEO Javaid Warraich said that a team led by Assistant Commissioner Shahid Abbas and DDO (Health) Afzal Bhalli jointly sealed the lab.