The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Central and Maharashtra Pollution Control Boards (CPCB and MPCB) to inspect a plea alleging environmental violations by brick kilns in the Sawantwadi-Dodamarg corridor covering Palghar and Thane districts in Maharashtra. The principal bench of NGT, headed by its chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel, was dealing with the plea against illegal mining of mi minerals and topsoil for the manufacture of bricks in these brick kilns.

According to the applicant, the illegal operation of brick kilns and mining affects the environment, including the eco-sensitive zone of Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary and Tansa River Valley and its floodplains. The applicant has given coordinates of the erring brick kilns and photographs. It is also stated that most of the brick kilns are close to the floodplains and they also extract groundwater illegally, without requisite NOC from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).

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The brick kilns also use prohibited fuel. Removal of topsoil adversely affects land fertility and lowers clay content. It also affects the forests of Thane Forest Division, the petition read.

Considering the plea, the bench said: “We find merit in the stand of the applicant that brick kilns can be allowed only subject to the conditions as having been laid down by the Supreme Court. Further, in view of the ESZ Notification dated September 11,2019, a brick kiln at a prohibited distance from ESZ in terms of the said Notification cannot be allowed.”

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