Time to think about the alternatives to brickfields
A.S.M Riad Arif, SARRC Silver Jubilee Scholar, South Asian University, New Delhi :Brick industry is one of the casual and unorganized enterprises in Bangladesh, but it is booming with the expansion of land business. It is a work-escalated industry. This sector in Bangladesh contributes around 1% of total national output and employees around 750,000 people. The bricks manufacturing industry has grown fast in the last decade, following unplanned and rampant investment since the 1990s.
In 2011, accessible market information showed that there were 4,880 brickfields in Bangladesh, 92% of which are dirtying settled smokestack ovens. With around 17 billion blocks created yearly, the industry’s yearly CO2 emission is estimated to be 9.8 million tonnes.
Most of the brick kiln workers are women living under the poverty line. At workplace, they are abused, denied of proper respect and face gender discrimination. Their financial conditions cause concerns. In this background, an endeavor has been made to determine and look at the financial states of female labourers occupied with block furnace industrial facilities. They and their children are most neglected that makes them express their disappointment in most of the cases. Working condition should be improved so they are encouraged and enthuse. Statutory advantages should be given for their welfare.
The average income of a bricks kiln workers are not paid more than Tk250 per day. As they do not have another work, they are bound to involve their children in their job. Their income is not enough to maintain a family with four or five members. So their wife or children have to work as a domestic worker. Most of the time they have is slum near Railway Station. Five or six people sleep together in a single small room. Most of their earnings are spent to pay house rent. Most of them are village people from the different parts of Bangladesh. They do not have any land at village. Their social status is very low as well and they do not receive privileges, with their economic status determining their social class. Many of them are victim of climate change. They lost their lands in drought or river erosion, leading to their shifting to urban areas. Most dangerously, many of the children are involving with this industry.
Their children were supposed to go to school. But they are assisting their parents at the labourious job instead. According to the latest child labor report published by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), there are now as many as 3.45 million children in active labour in the country. Ten years ago, when the BBS published its last report, 3.2 million children were in active labour, meaning that 250,000 child labours have increased in a decade. So this is the high time to think about the brick kilns and we must find some alternative to the industry considering the environmental issues as well.