Around 40 percent of brick kilns in all six districts of Barishal division are being operated illegally, with the Department of Environment (DoE) being able to fine only four of those in the last three months.
During drives, owners of those brick kilns were fined Tk 3.15 lakh, DoE sources said.
The total number of brick kilns in the division is 376. Of them, 227 did not take any licence from the department, they said.
There might be more illegal ones beyond the official record, said DoE Director in Barishal division Abdul Halim.
Among the illegal ones, over 100 are drum-based, said DoE sources.
Abdul Halim said the number of such illegal brick kilns is increasing in Barishal division.
According to the Brick Kiln Amendment Rule 2001 and the Environment Conservation Act 1995 (amended in 2010), brick kilns should not be established within three kilometres of any dwelling or crop field.
Drums or old chimneys cannot be used in the brick kilns, and the chimneys have to be at least 120 feet high.
When asked about such unabated illegal operation of the brick kilns, the DoE director said most of these were established on the riverbanks and in remote areas, so it is difficult to monitor them.
“If we want to conduct eviction drives, we need magistracy and police support. So, it takes time. That's why, we are not able to do so whenever we want,” he added.
In Dasherhat and Jambhudip villages in Barishal's Banaripara upazila, this newspaper found most of the brick kilns being operated defying rules. Firewood was being burned in almost all of those, which the rules do not allow.
Besides, several of the brick kilns were established near schools affecting children, said Anowar Hossain from Jambhudip.
In some cases, influential people are running their business illegally by “managing” the local administration, several residents alleged.
Contacted, Banaripara Upazila Nirbahi Officer Sheikh Abdullah Sadid said they would take steps against the illegal practice as soon as possible.