A huge amount of mature paddy, mango, litchi and maize on more than 30 acres of land was damaged on the night of May 21 in Sujalpur village of Birganj upazila.
The affected farmers, as many as 25, alleged that their crops were damaged when hot and toxic fumes were spewed by a brick kiln, Maa Bricks, situated by the Dhepa river in the village under Nijpara union.
They said the fume was released during the shutdown process of the kiln, owned by one Shamsher Ali, that night and they found out about the damage next morning.
They also said they sent a petition to Birganj upazila nirbahi officer early last week, seeking compensation for the damage.
The extent of the damage is so severe that not a single kilogram of rice can now be salvaged from the crop field, said a farmer.
Damage to an adjacent litchi orchard, a mango orchard (on four acres of land) and a maize field (on six acres) was also extensive. The total area of the litchi orchard could not be known immediately.
A large number of fruits from the litchi and mango trees in the orchards are now falling off, the farmers said.
Ramisa Begum, whose husband Abu Bakar Siddique died recently, said they cultivated paddy on one bigha of land leased from Abdul Kader in the village.
They worked hard for the paddy, but the matured crop is completely ruined overnight by the fume from the kiln, she lamented. "I don't know whom I should complain to for its compensation."
Another affected farmer, Jitendranath Roy, said he cultivated paddy on one acre of land and he was hoping to pay off his debts after harvesting the paddy. "Now my worry is how I would repay the debts."
Mango trader Mamunur Rashid said he had leased a mango orchard on four acres of land for Tk 6 lakh, but all the mango in the orchard are now ruined because of the fumes from the brick kiln.
When the entire country went into shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the farmers continued their work as Prime Mininster Sheikh Hasina urged all not to leave one inch of arable land unutilised in order to cope with looming economic crisis due to the pandemic.
The farmers are already in a financial crisis due to falling prices of their produce over the last few years and unless due compensation is arranged, they might not survive such a huge blow to their livelihood, Mamun added.
Department of Agricultural Extension official Manoranjan Adhikari said after getting complaints from the farmers, he visited the affected area already.
He also said a report assessing the damage has also been filed with the higher authorities.
Contacted, Birganj Upazila Nirbahi Officer Yamin Hossain ensured that legal action would be taken against the brickfield owner and compensation would be paid to all the affected farmers.