|COVID-19 outbreak hits local brick kiln industry in Jammu |
|Labourers sitting idle, season ends by mid June|
Early Times Report
JAMMU, Apr 9: Amid country wide lockdown due to COVID-19, the brick kiln industry across J&K is on the verge of closure. However, governments in neighboring States like Punjab, Haryana and even Uttar Pradesh have asked all the brick kilns in their respective states to commence operations to prevent exodus of migrant labour force. But these government have asked the brick kiln owners to make adequate provisions to accommodate the work force safely within the premises.
Hundreds of labourers are working in around 155 brick kilns in Jammu province. Due to lockdown the labourers are sitting idle without any work and is causing huge lose to the owners.
"At present there are 450-500 labourers at each brick kiln, but the activities have been stopped since March 24, when countrywide lockdown was announced by the Prime Minister to contain the spread of deadly Coronavirus," said, Janak Raj Mahajan President Brick Kiln Association Jammu.
Mahajan said that the brick kiln owners of various districts of Jammu province have taken up the matter with concerned Deputy Commissioner, but the entire exercise has remained fruitless till date.
"They (DCs) returned us with oral order to continue our works. Presently, the moulding of bricks is going on at some places. Recently, three brick kilns, one in Samba and two in Rajouri districts have been seized by the administration", he said.
"Last year we could not manufacture sufficient bricks, due to shortage of local bricks, supply was fulfilled by importing bricks from Punjab but it led to cost escalation. Local brick costs Rs 7 to Rs 7.50, but same cost goes upto Rs 12 to Rs 13 when its brought from Punjab", said Sham Gandotra, President Brick Kiln Association district Rajouri, adding that there are already many unsettled issues which are not allowing them to restart the work.
"We have 24 brick kiln in district Rajouri, with sufficient space to maintain social distancing. We are fulfilling their requirements, the administration should think about local industry as well", he said, adding that Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and many other States with certain conditions have allowed operation of brick kiln.
Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, Commissioner Secretary, Industries and Commerce Department when contacted said that efforts are being made to sort-out this crisis.
"Some representatives from Brick Kiln industry met me and expressed their concerns. I have sought assessment of requirement of these units. Apart from Industry Department, CAPD and concerned Deputy Commissioners are involved in operation of these units", he said, adding that the department will try it's best to help these units like others states.