Save Clay Bricks ....Save 2 crore Labourers....Stop cancerous Fly Ash....Remove GSR 157(E)

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The draft notification GSR 157 (E) dated 25th February 2019 issued by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has proposed amendments in the existing regulation (S.O. 763(E) dated 14th September 1999). The draft amendment proposes that “No new red clay brick kiln shall be installed and operated within 300 km from a coal or lignite based thermal power plant after publication of this notification. The existing red clay brick kilns located within 300 km shall be converted into fly ash based bricks or blocks or tiles manufacturing unit within one year from the date of publication of this notification”.

Every burnt/red clay brick manufacturing unit in India will have to shut down within one year as per the draft notification.                                

We object to the proposed/draft notification and submit herewith our objections/concerns with respect to the notification as they would affect various stake holders:

A. GENERAL

1. Flyash is a waste of coal or lignite based thermal power plants. By no stretch of imagination can the Central Government issue a notification under the Environment Protection Act making it incumbent upon brick kilns situated within a certain radius of above mentioned plants to utilize the flyash for purposes of manufacture of bricks. Although the Central Government under section 3(2)(iv) of Act no. 29 of 1986 can impose a restriction on areas in which any industry, operation or process shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards, the aforesaid provision cannot read to mean that the Central Government is also empowered to force certain class of industry to utilize a waste generated by  another industry for the manufacture of its product.

It is the responsibility of the Government/Thermal plants to figure out how to handle their waste and not just force it on small scale/cottage red clay brick industry.

2. The Central Government had, originally, vide SO 763(E) dated 14th September 1999 and subsequently vide SO 979(E) dated 27th August 2003 notified and made it incumbent for brick manufacturing units to use flyash of thermal plants. The notification was challenged in the  Punjab & Haryana High Court in CWP 20169 of 2004.  The Court had vide order dated 27th January 2005 stayed the Original Notification dated 14th September 1999 and observed that clear cut written statement is required from Respondents and GOI about the possibility of danger emerging out of use of Flyash. It had also observed that thousands of brick kiln labourers would be rendered unemployed.

Following this the Government had itself amended the original notification in 2009 vide SO 2804(E) dated 3rd November 2009 to remove mandatory use of flyash in manufacture of red clay bricks.

We fail to understand the need for this notification again and that too to the extent of shutting down the red clay brick business in totality.

3. As per the original notification as amended from time to time, fly ash was also to be used for highway embankments and roads etc. This has not happened. The contractors building highways, roads and national highways are using clay to fulfill their requirement in total disregard of the notified law. The government does not seem to have evaluated the implementation of existing law before deciding to shut down red clay brick manufacturing units.

4. Nowhere else in the world are red clay products totally banned or insisted upon to be totally replaced by flyash based products. Fly ash gets generated in almost every country.

5. The entire world is moving away from fossil fuel-based power plants. Solar energy and Wind energy are being now being promoted and used extensively. In India also the Power Ministry is working towards these as well as Nuclear energy to generate electricity. Subsidies are being provided for Solar energy based power plants big or small. In the coming times thermal plants will be phased out. What then? Where will the flyash come from for all the brick manufacturing units or to meet the demand of bricks in the country? Will the Ministry again want the industry to go back to red clay bricks? No long-term thought seems to have gone into drafting of this notification. Even now there is not enough flyash to fulfill the needs of brick industry or building industry.

B. RED CLAY BRICK MANUFACTURING UNITS (BRICK KILN OWNERS)

1. All red clay brick manufacturing units will have to shut down. The government cannot force the existing red clay brick manufacturing units to convert. If this is extrapolated to the entire country, there are almost 180000 red clay brick manufacturing units. You can well imagine the damage/loss to the owners and their families.

2. All the investments made by the owners in red clay brick manufacturing units will be lost. In 2018 the EPCA had made it mandatory to covert to green zig-zag technology. Each brick kiln owners had to invest 90-100 lacs to convert. All this investment will be lost and will cause irreparable loss to the owners.

 

C. WORKERS OF RED CLAY BRICK MANUFACTURING UNITS

- Red clay brick industry is one of the largest employers in our country.  It provides livelihood to about 1.8 crore workers. if the entire burnt clay brick production in the country is shifted to fly ash brick production over 1 crore workers will lose their livelihoods. This is presuming that these workers fill be able to fit into the fly ash based brick industry. Each worker has a family of 5-6. Thus 5-6 crore persons who are dependent on red clay brick industry for their livelihood will be affected.

What plans does MoEF has for providing employment to these over 1 crore workers?

D.FARMERS/LAND OWNERS

1. Due to heavy usage of Pesticides and fertilisers the top soil gets contaminated. Haryana has a very thick layer of top soil and undulated lands. Farmers are able to dispose off the top soil for brick making the lower layer of soil level and free of pesticides and fertilisers. This is a huge means of livelihood for them.

 

2. Land owners and farmers have a regular yearly income by renting out their lands for clay and moulding. They are also able to dispose of their Agri waste to the red clay brick manufacturing units for value. It is estimated that burnt clay brick industry contributes Rs 50,000 crore annually to rural economy in terms of wages, payment to farmers for soil, tractor/truck hiring, etc. Farmers supply around 18 million tons of agriculture residue to brick kilns to be used as fuel. If this ban is imposed on burnt clay bricks, then this residue will be burnt by farmers in open fields, resulting in further worsening of air pollution situation in the country.

 

"Has this impact been taken into consideration while framing the draft amendment ?"

 

E.CONSUMERS/BUILDERS

1. Red clay bricks have a very long life. In India, itself burn clay bricks dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization (around 5000 years old) have been excavated. In life cycle analysis, the life of burnt clay bricks is taken as several hundred years. On the other hand life span of fly ash bricks is very short and the product is yet to be time tested. (usually taken as 50 years or less).

2. Fly ash bricks carry certain amount of RADIOACTIVITY in them which is higher in levels compared to red clay bricks. This poses a huge health hazard for occupants of buildings where fly ash bricks have been used.

3. Apart from being safe from radioactivity, burnt clay bricks offers several advantages over fly ash bricks which makes them popular among end-user. Some of these advantages are:

- At the time of demolition of the building most of the burnt clay bricks can be recovered intact and can be reused, the damaged bricks are converted into aggregates and used in the construction. On the other hand, fly ash bricks and blocks crumble during demolition. They pose a health hazard in their handling and require large amount of energy for recycling. Which means that the energy and resources utilized once for the production of burnt clay products are used several times over the life cycle of the product. On the other hand fresh resources and energy is needed for the recycling of fly ash bricks and blocks apart from the issues arising due to the hazardous nature of the waste.

- Fired clay brick weathers beautifully with time, never giving in completely to the onslaught of natural agencies and microorganisms working against it. Due to its durability, flexibility of use and ‘livability’, burnt clay bricks remains to be the most popular walling material in the country today.

- Hand moulded burnt clay bricks (density of 1440 kg/m3) have thermal conductivity of 0.62 W/m-K which is lower compared to the typical thermal conductivity of  fly ash bricks (density 1650 kg/m3) of 0.86 W/m-K. This along with its thermal mass, makes burnt clay bricks as one of the best material to construct  in hot climates as they provide insulation and keep the inside of the house cooler.

- Fly ash bricks have yet to gain confidence of a typical home builder and owner in India. Finding good quality fly ash bricks is a big issue even with government agencies involved in using fly ash bricks.

- Houses constructed using fly ash bricks are prone to cracks as they shrink with the passage of time giving rise to cracks. These cracks occur even after plaster of fly ash bricks.

- Burnt clay bricks are equivalent to soil. On the other hand, fly ash bricks can`t be converted into soil as they are containing radioactive material which is dangerous and hazardous and to be recycled with proper supervision and care.

- Alternatives to red clay bricks may be expensive and/or monopolistic.

 

 

 

 

F.ENVIRONMENT

1. Transportation of fly ash using trucks and tractors, storage of fly ash in open and manual handling at fly ash brick manufacturing facilities exposes workers of brick manufacturing plants and near-by residents to significant amounts of coarse particulate matter (PM10) and fine particulate matter (PM 2.5). At present, the air pollution caused by fly ash is limited mainly to the areas surrounding thermal power plants. The implementation of the amendment to the regulation will result in transportation of fly ash to almost all parts of the country and a much larger population will get exposed to the air pollution caused by fly ash.

Transportation of such huge quantities of fly ash will also result in all kinds of vehicular pollution.

Burnt clay brick industry consumes raw materials (such as different soils/clays) and supplies bricks locally, i.e. within 0-15 km. This makes it far more energy-efficient and less polluting than cement and fly ash, wherein the transportation distances can be much higher, even up to 300 km. For example, if the fly ash, is transported to around 150 km by trucks to brick manufacturing facilities, it will result in an additional energy consumption of around 700 MJ/ m3. One can imagine the scenario of hundreds and thousands of trucks lined in and around TPPs to transport fly ash, resulting in road congestion and air pollution due to emissions from trucks. If sand, stone dust, gypsum, lime etc. are also transported for manufacturing of fly ash bricks it will result in huge energy consumption and air pollution. 

"Have the impact of above transportation taken into consideration while drafting this amendment?"

2. Ground water will get contaminated if fly ash is transported and stocked in rural areas of the country.

 

 

 

 

AVAILABILITY OF FLY ASH

The Central Government itself at one point of time envisaged shortage of Flyash with Thermal plants Notification dated 3rd November 2009 amended the original Notification by inserting the following:

(3) In case of non-availability of flyash from thermal power plants in sufficient quantities as certified by the said power plants, within 100 km of the site, the stipulation under sub paragraph (1A) shall be suitably modified(waived or relaxed) by the concerned State Government or Union territory Government level monitoring committee mentioned elsewhere in this notification.

 

 


In reality, the existing small-scale fly ash brick and block manufacturing units are apparently facing immense problems in getting adequate, affordable and uninterrupted supply of fly ash. Several TPPs have given in writing that they do not have adequate amount of fly ash to give to brick manufacturers. As per the earlier notification, the TPPs were supposed to supply fly ash free of cost and bear the cost of transportation of fly ash to brick units located within 100 km radius. In reality a large number of brick units located within 100 km radius of TPPs, who have invested large sums of money to utilize fly ash, are forced to pay exorbitant amount of money to purchase fly ash from TPPs. TPPs, including central PSUs like NTPC have refused to bear the cost of transportation within 100 km radius. TPPs have no mechanism/policy for supply of fly ash to the brick manufacturers free of cost even as today.

Implementation of the provisions of the draft amendment will result in severe shortage of bricks in the country and associated increase in the prices of bricks. Majority of the rural housing and a significant part of the urban housing use burnt clay bricks as walling material. As per Government of India, to achieve “Housing for All by 2022”, a target of completing 1 crore new pucca houses in rural areas by 31st March 2019 and 2.95 crore pucca houses by 2022 has been set. Taking an estimate of 8,000 bricks required to construct a PMAY-G house, the requirement of bricks for PMAY-G programme for 2019-2022 works out to be around 24,000 crores. The shortage and high cost of bricks due to the regulation has the potential to derail the “Housing for All” mission of the Government and will cause further pain to the already crippled real estate industry in the country.

USE OF NATURAL MINERALS AND MATERIALS FOR FLY ASH BRICK PRODUCTION

We would now like to draw your attention to the use of natural materials, resources and environmental pollution in the production of fly ash bricks.

As mentioned in Table 1 of the draft amendment, apart from 50% fly ash, the production of fly ash bricks require sand, stone dust, lime or cement, gypsum, etc. Even if we consider that 35% of the material requirement is in the form of natural materials like sand/stone-dust, almost 200 million tons of these materials would be needed if the entire 100% brick requirements are to be met by fly ash bricks. As you may be aware that both sand mining and stone quarrying are under tremendous environment scrutiny. There are news reports that in certain parts of India (e.g. Tamil Nadu) sand is being imported. It is now common that manufactured sand is being used in place of natural sand in construction. The price of sand has increased several folds. Sand prices exceed cement prices in several parts of the country. There are news reports which have reported fly ash brick production being stopped because of shortage of sand.

"Have these resource requirements taken into considerations while drafting this amendment?"

Production of burnt clay bricks requires around 1 litre of water per standard brick In case of fly ash brick production 15.5 liters of water is used per standard brick for the manufacturing and more importantly curing of the product. A large part of the country is water starved and water availability is expected to go down further in future. A few years back during the drought years in Maharashtra, all industrial activities including the production of fly ash bricks was stopped due to water shortages.

"Have these water requirements taken into considerations while drafting this amendment?"

 

 

It is clear from the above that the draft amendments have multi-dimensional impacts on environment, resource use, health, housing, employment, entrepreneurship, economy, etc.

We request MoEFCC to take back the draft notification.