The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has ordered closure and disconnection of power supply of 100 brick chambers and country kilns located in different parts of Coimbatore for want of various permits.
In a proceeding dated December 20, the TNPCB issued the order to 12 brick chambers and 30 country kilns which fall under the jurisdiction of Coimbatore South District Environmental Engineer (DEE) and 12 brick chambers and 46 country kilns within the jurisdiction of Coimbatore North DEE.
A closure order served on a brick chamber that functioned in Madampatti village in the district, a copy of which is available with The Hindu, said that closure and disconnection of power supply was ordered under Section 31A of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 (amended).
The closure order said that Coimbatore South DEE inspected the brick chamber on October 11, 2022 based on an order issued by the Madras High Court on a writ petition (WP 27356/2019). During the inspection, it was found that the unit was operating without obtaining a permit from the TNPCB.
Other violations of the unit included lack of No Objection Certificate from the Hill Area Conservation Authority (HACA), close proximity to human habitation (0.8 km) and proximity of less than one km distance from another brick chamber in the locality among others.
Chennai-based activist S. Muralidharan of Indian Centre for Animal Rights and Education (INCARE), who raised the issue of illegal operations of brick kilns before the court, said that the TNPCB initiated the action fearing contempt of court proceedings.
In an order on November 24, 2022, a Bench of Justices N. Sathish Kumar and D. Bharatha Chakravarthy had warned the TNPCB of taking contempt proceedings if it failed to submit a detained report on the action taken against brick kilns in the next hearing. The Bench made the remark after finding the report filed on behalf of TNPCB was bereft of any details.
The TNPCB sources said that 100 units are not included among the 177 brick kilns located in five village panchayats in Thadagam valley in the district which were closed in 2021 based on an order issued by the District Collector. However, the Commissioner of Geology and Mining in an order dated December 29 allowed these 177 units to resume operations after paying the penalty imposed on them, though the relief is subject to final judgment of cases related to brick kiln operations pending before the Madras High Court and the Southern Zone of the National Green Tribunal.
Mr. Muralidharan said that he will appeal against the order issued by the Commissioner of Geology and Mining.