Tura, Feb 18: In a significant step undertaken by the Meghalaya Forest Department, 7 illegal brick kilns operating out of the plain belt of West Garo Hills were closed down on Tuesday.
The move came after the department conducted a crackdown following numerous complaints from residents in the adjoining areas.
The 7 illegal brick kilns were shut down in the presence of a magistrate, PR Sangma, Block Development Officer (BDO) of Demdema under West Garo Hills. Residents of the district had raised concerns over the rise in air pollution as well as the lack of any valid documents to run such industry within residential areas.
Reports claim that the 7 illegal kilns have already destroyed over 50 acres of prime farmland around the Phulbari region. The kilns also operate without permission from any state authorities and without the payment of taxes or NOCs.
According to reports, a rough estimate of over 60-70 illegal brick kilns are currently operating out of West Garo Hills’ Phulbari region alone. Most of these kilns are reportedly situated close to the road and near residential areas.
Tengban Marak, Ranger of Hollaidanga range said that they will continue their efforts to crackdown on illegal brick kilns, and added, ‘These do not have any operational documents and are one of the biggest pollution problems for people of the area. Hopefully, we will be able to manage the menace.’
Lauding the crackdown, FR Marak, President of Garo Students Union (GSU) said, ‘This is definitely a step in the right direction. We have been highlighting the menace these operators have been causing for a while now and are happy that action is finally being taken. We also hope that the situation is not relaxed going forward.’
Meanwhile local NGOs have also hailed the move of the department calling the action a big win for the local residents of the region.