NAOGAON, May 08: Emissions from brick kilns is damaging banana plants and paddy fields on 20 hectares of land under Dhamoirhat upazila in the district.
Some local farmers said similar damage to their crops happened last year as well because of the brick kilns.
About 55 farmers have incurred immense losses due to the smoke. In additions to banana and paddy, the deadly smoke also damaged mango, jackfruit and papaya trees surrounding the area.
Peasants Kazem Ali and Tarikul Islam said full grown banana plants on nearly 16 hectares of land and Boro paddy on four hectares of land have been affected by the toxic gas emitted from four brick kilns in Choughat, Raspur and Nandanpur areas of the upazila.
The leaves of the banana plants and the paddy plants are turning reddish and "being burnt."
Under the circumstances, the authorities should force the brick kiln owners to compensate the farmers, they added.
Owner of one of the brick kilns Mizanur Rahman said once we sat with the farmers with the intervention of chairman and member of local union parishad to compromise on the matter.
Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Ganapati Roy said some 55 farmers made complaint to my office regarding the effects of the fumes from the brick kilns in the upazila.
If the allegation of the farmers is proved, the owners of the brick kilns must give necessary compensation to the farmers for their losses, he added.
Our Rangpur correspondent adds: Standing Boro paddy on more than 30 acres of land at Sheikherhat area of Badarganj upazila under Rangpur district have been damaged due to the emissions from two brick kilns set up near agricultural lands.
Besides, a good number of fruit bearing trees including mango, jackfruit and litchi are also being affected under the impact of the smoke discharged from the brick kilns.
Raihan Mia (50), a farmer of Sheikherhat village said that he cultivated Boro on two acres of land taking money from a local NGO. But a major portion of the crops has been damaged by the poisonous gas of a brick producer. "How will I repay the loan now" he lamented.
"I cultivated boro on one acre of land but almost all of the paddy got damaged owing to the heat and emissions from the brickfields, said Badrul, another farmer of same the area.
Expressing disappointment a good number of mango, jackfruit and litchi growers of the areas said they will have to incur huge losses this season as the fruits are badly being affected because of the emissions of the nearby brick kilns.
A number of affected farmers of the areas told FE that they have been facing problem in cultivating crops since the brick fields went into operation few years ago. They demanded cancellation of permission of the brick fields set up close to agricultural lands in order to save their crops from being destroyed.
In this situation the affected farmers urged the authority concerned to take necessary steps in this regard.
Meanwhile, UNB adds: In Manikganj, Heat from brick kilns has destroyed paddy on about 166 acres of field in Sadar upazila's Gokulnagar and Sulandi villages, farmers and agriculture officials said.
Gour Chandra Sarkar, a deputy assistant agriculture officer, says paddy fields are damaged every year this way. "We've warned the brick kiln operators several times but nothing's changed," he said.
Agriculture officials say the IRRI rice production target for this season is unlikely to be met for this reason.
Farmers say they had been preparing to harvest the paddy in two weeks' time but now they are staring at a bleak future with their only mean of livelihood gone.
About 200 farmers have been affected. Shahab Uddin, manager of one of the brick kilns, says they are making a list of farmers for compensating them.
Farmers have been asking for removal of brick kilns from near the fields for a long time, but their words have fallen on deaf ears.
Although operators of about 15 brick kilns near the paddy fields have acknowledged their roles, it is yet unclear whether they will be relocated.
Sadar Upazila Agriculture Officer Imtiaz Alam says brick kiln operators paid no heed to their warnings.
"Paddy on about 500 bighas has been completely damaged this time. Compensating the farmers is the only thing that can be done now," he said.