Use of brick kilns should be restricted, as these have been one of the major contributors for depletion of the country's arable land, experts have opined at a programme.
Referring to a data of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) 2012, they said the country's total 15.4 million acres of agricultural land has been reducing by one per cent every year due to various reasons.
Of the total reduced land, 17.4 per cent has been lessening due to 45,000 brick kilns, they noted.
Besides, another 80 per cent of the land has been depleting due to unplanned housing, they said.
These observations came at a seminar on 'Concrete Block as the Alternative of Burnt Bricks to Save Environment', held at CIRDAP Auditorium in the capital on Wednesday.
Nagar Unnayan Sangbadik Forum (City Development Journalist Forum, Bangladesh - CDJFB) organised the seminar.
Housing and Public Works Minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain was present as the chief guest at the programme with CDJFB President Amitosh Paul in the chair.
The minister said the brick kilns should be restricted by 2020 to protect the environment and agricultural land.
"I am against the use of top soil," he said.
"The way top soil is used to produce bricks, is very harmful for fertility of agricultural lands. Besides, air is being polluted with these kilns," he mentioned.
Concrete block expert Abu Sadek said there are 45,000 registered and unregistered brick kilns in the country, of which only 7,900 are registered.
In 2040, the country's population will reach 245 million, and more land will be required for their housing. But Bangladesh will not be able to fulfill the demand of food even for 50 million people with the available arable land at that time, he said.
"If Bangladesh does not stop burning bricks right away, the country will face serious food and environment crisis. With the fuel, which is burnt to produce bricks now, 6,000 MW of electricity can be generated," he added.
Citing research findings, he noted that concrete block can reduce 30-40 per cent construction cost.
Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP) General Secretary Adil Mohammed Khan said health and environment threats have been increasing due to brick kilns.
The government should devise some alternatives to brick kilns, and should take steps to ensure the use of concrete blocks instead of burnt bricks by 2020.
In the keynote paper, Abdul Awal of Bangladesh Redimix Concrete Association said a total of 17.2 billion pieces of brick have been produced in the country every year.
The most alarming thing is that a total of 28.4 million cubic feet top soil has been used to produce bricks every year. About 240 million tonnes coal are used to produce one million bricks. Besides, bamboo and wood of the rural forests are also burnt alongside coal.
About 9.8 billion tonnes carbon emit from the brick kilns every year, which is 23 per cent of the total carbon emission of the country, he added.
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