Govt must control fertile topsoil burnt for bricks

In the serene landscapes of Lalmonirhat and Kurigram, a quiet crisis is unfolding beneath the soil, threatening the very foundation of the region’s agricultural prosperity.

Approximately 180 brick kilns scattered across 14 upazilas of the two districts are extracting topsoil from farmlands, leaving a trail of environmental degradation and agricultural distress in their wake.

The sheer scale of the issue is staggering – each brick kiln consumes around 5 kilograms of topsoil to manufacture a single brick.

With an annual production of 40-50 lakh bricks per kiln, the cumulative impact on the region’s topsoil reserves is severe.

This wanton extraction, occurring at depths of 5-10 inches from the surface, disrupts the delicate balance of the uppermost layer of soil, known as topsoil.

Brick kiln owners, in their pursuit of topsoil, often purchase extensive tracts of land at once, leaving adjacent agricultural lands elevated. This disparity in soil height poses a considerable challenge for farmers, particularly after irrigation.

Faced with the compulsion to level their fields, farmers are left with no choice but to sell their topsoil, receiving a meager compensation of Tk 15,000-20,000 per bigha.

This economic burden further compounds the challenges faced by these already vulnerable farming communities.

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The government must enact and rigorously enforce regulations to control topsoil extraction for brick production.

Stringent penalties and monitoring mechanisms are essential to curb illegal practices. Besides, support and incentivize for adoption of eco-friendly brick manufacturing technologies that minimize or eliminate the need for topsoil.

Foster partnerships between government agencies, environmental organizations, and the brick kiln industry to develop and implement sustainable practices.

Joint initiatives can lead to the creation of guidelines that balance construction sector needs with the preservation of agricultural lands.

In preserving our agricultural heritage, we can build a sustainable future for Lalmonirhat and Kurigram.

It’s time to prioritize the well-being of our environment, agriculture, and communities over short-term gains.

Through collective action and a commitment to sustainable practices, we can ensure a flourishing legacy for generations to come.

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