Land used by brick factory in ward no. 19 of Kirtipur Municipality
Brick Kiln is one of the major ambient air polluting sources of Kirtipur Municipality. The western part of the hillock settlement of Kirtipur comparatively with less settlement density and higher agricultural land are fully covered by brick kilns. Brick manufacturers rent between 2 and 10 hectares of land from farmers to produce bricks. Bricks are produced during the dry season from December to May after the paddy is harvested. Farmers grow paddy in summer in the same land and rent it out to the potential brick factories instead of growing winter crop, which is compensated in cash by brick producers.
Factory uses the topsoil for the manufacture of brick. The workers in the factory are paid according to the number of bricks made. Therefore, there is a competition among the workers to produce maximum number of bricks and in turn has destroyed the top soil of farms in Kirtipur faster than would have been by other unsustainable land use practices. This has led to soil erosion and increased landslide vulnerability especially in the terraced land.
Some farmers estimate the loss of top soil has reduced summer crop production by about 50%. This loss could be prevented if the land is not leased to the factory; however, it seems not possible with the current market of bricks that pays relatively good amount of money as compensation for winter crops. In order to maintain summer crop yield farmers use heavy doses of chemical fertilizers, which is both expensive and also has negative impacts. The excess fertilizer enters the hydrologic system, resulting in water pollution and increasing concerns about the quality of drinking water, as well as the whole aquatic ecosystem. The areas used by the brick kiln have also resulted in other problems such as drying of wells, occurrences of landslides, and air pollution leading to poor visibility. The black soot and bad smell from the chimney create difficulty.
Commercial brick industries in Kirtipur started about 10-15 years ago. The number of kilns as well as the land used by them was very low in the beginning. However, they both have grown dramatically in recent years with visible impacts in the environment. A study carried out in 2008 showed that the Kirtipur area is already experiencing changes in rainfall, which has undermined farmers' ability to maintain seasonal farming. This indicates that people in Kirtipur will perhaps continue to suffer a significant loss in agricultural production in the coming days both due to human greed and natural reason.
Nirmal Mani Dahal
Wildlife Conservation Nepal ( WCN)