Rashid Paul

Licensed brick-kilns can operate within prohibited area around Srinagar airport if they limit smoke hazard: HC

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Kiln owners asked to not operate during winter months -- Nov 01-March 31

Srinagar: Rescinding its earlier order that disallowed operation of brick-kilns within the eight kilometer radius of Srinagar Airport, the High Court on Monday said the licensed brick-kilns can now function within the prohibited area but should have smoke limiting chimneys.

Acting on a petition relating to poor visibility and underdevelopment of the Srinagar Airport, the court said “the brick-kiln owners may be permitted to operate their kilns within the prohibited area provided they possess a valid license.”

The coram comprising chief justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sanjay Dhar directed the kiln owners should “furnish an undertaking that they shall use furnaces as shall not cause smoke hazard”.

Oil fired, electrical furnaces or those which are run on fuel and do not emit smoke can be used, suggested the court.

It also stressed upon the kiln owners not to operate their units during the winter season from 1st November every year to 31st March next year.

It will be open for the authorities to keep a constant vigil upon the brick-kilns so as they may not violate the terms and conditions of the license or the undertaking failing which appropriate legal action shall immediately be taken against them, the direction added.

The court directed that the PIL on brick-kilns to be consigned to records with liberty to the authorities to take up individual cases of violation of the terms, license and undertaking by the brick-kiln owners.

The public at large have been put on liberty to get the matter reopened if the authorities fail to upgrade the Srinagar Airport as may be necessary in future.

A judge of J&K High Court had a few years ago noticed that the Airports Authority of India had prima facie failed to take notice of the hardships faced by the tourists and travelers by air to and from Kashmir.

The then Chief Justice had in 2016 directed the matter to be treated as a PIL. The Union of India through Ministry of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India, Air Commodore, Air Force Station, and Srinagar were arrayed as respondents in the petition.

In upgrading the system at the Srinagar Airport, it was noticed that smoke from brick-kilns located ahead of runway 31 was one of the factors for the low visibility during the months from October to March.

Accordingly, directions were issued to the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir and the Deputy Commissioner Budgam to take appropriate steps for relocation of the brick-kilns.

Specific directions were issued by the court in 2019 to ensure that no brick-kiln is permitted to operate within eight kilometers radius from the centre of the runway of the airport.

The court had noted that Srinagar Airport is not a civilian airport but a defense airport and its up-gradation and development is dependent upon the requirement of the defense forces.

Some brick-kiln owners later on prayed for the recall of the orders whereby directions were issued prohibiting their units from operation saying their livelihood was being snatching from them.

They said that they were prepared to give an undertaking that they will not operate the brick-kilns during the winters.

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