SIALKOT-The owners of brick-kilns have increased the rate of bricks in Sialkot district due to which people, especially the local builders, are suffering from a great ordeal in purchase of bricks.

They complain that the owners have also created an artificial shortage of bricks in Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial, Pasrur and Zafarwal tehsils. This situation has badly affected the construction of under completion projects as these projects are being delayed due to the shortage of bricks.

Talking to The Nation, some brick-kilns owners said that they were forced to increase the rates of bricks due to hike in the prices of every commodity. They added that ‘fresh taxation’ announced in the federal and provincial budgets would prove fatal for brick-kilns.

Sialkot based trader Abdul Majeed said that he had started the construction of a new house and thousands of the bricks were needed. He added that he had gone to a brick-kiln in the outskirts of Sialkot for getting bricks. “First the owners complained about the shortage of bricks; later they demanded Rs10,000 to Rs12000 for one thousand bricks.”

Local builder M Aslam said that this situation was badly affecting under completion construction projects in Sialkot region. “The district administration of Sialkot has fixed Rs7,500 as official rate for one thousand bricks.” The builders maintained that most of the brick-kiln owners transported bricks from Burewala, Vehari, Sargodha and surrounding areas instead of producing bricks at local brick-kilns in Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial, Pasrur and Zafarwal tehsil.

The brick-kilns owners, on the other hand, said that these transported bricks were cheaper by cost as compared to those produced locally. The builders, however, blamed the brick-kiln owners for allegedly selling these cheaper bricks on higher rates.

Labourers at these brick-kilns complained of low wages despite increase in rate of bricks by the owners. The builders said that this practice by the brick-kiln owners was going unabated due to negligence of the district administration. They demanded a stern action against it.