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air pollution: Punjab shifts all brick kilns to zigzag technology

Islamabad

May 3, 2021

Islamabad:Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Mailk Amin Aslam on Sunday revealed that all brick kilns in Punjab province, which accounted for significant portion of choking air pollution, have been shifted on zigzag technology, a move that will significantly help mitigate the province's air pollution woes.

In total, 7896 traditional brick kilns, which ran on smog-causing fossil fuels, in the entire Punjab province, have been converted in a period of six months to the environmentally smart zig-zag technology that help reduce breath-chocking carbon emissions by 60 percent and save energy by 30 percent, the PM's aide said, according to a press statement issued here from the Ministry of Climate Change.

Malik Amin Aslam, who played a vital role behind the shift, said, "It's indeed a great milestone the Punjab government has achieved in such a short period of time to fight spiking air pollution in the province.”

All other provinces, where air pollution has become a leading cause of re-mature deaths and various health diseases, should also follow the suit to fight environmental degradation and protect public health, he urged.

There are around 20,000 traditional brick kilns in the country, which use mainly coal, rubber and shoe soles as fuel, emitting lethal back carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Most are located around urban areas and contribute significantly to air pollution.

The country's brick sector is highly unregulated and uncoordinated but is responsible for around 1.5% of the Gross Domestic Product.

Malik Amin Aslam said that the traditional brick production consists of hand-made bricks, which are baked in Fixed Chimney Bull's Trench Kilns (FCBTK), a widely used brick firing technology in South Asia, ranked as the most contaminating techniques for brick production, resulting in myriad adverse social and environmental effects including air pollution, climate change, cardio-respiratory diseases, land use impacts and deforestation.

The traditional kiln type and fuels burned, make it difficult to accurately identify the make-up of air pollutants emitted by the sector, but they likely include sulphur oxides, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide (CO2), forms of particulate matter (PM) including black carbon, and additional compounds released by burning coal and other fuels, he highlighted.

The PM's aide further emphasized that black carbon a major component of soot from the brick kilns) is produced as a result of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuel and biomass. Besides, it is known for planet-warming impact on climate 460 to 1500 times stronger than CO2.

When accumulated on ice and snow, the black carbon is so adverse that it spiked both atmospheric warming and increases the melting rate, and hence is a threat to glaciers in the country's north, he elaborated.

However, melting glaciers reduce dry-season water availability and exacerbate the risk of glacial lake outburst floods, while increased climate variability and changes in rainfall and monsoon patterns could threaten regional water and food security as well as change the occurrence of landslides and floods, Malik Amin remarked.

He said that given the backdrop, the efforts were taken for introducing the zigzag technology to mitigate the issues of not only black carbons that cause black smog issue but also overall air pollution in the country under PM Imran Khan's vision for clean green Pakistan.

"The incumbent government embraced zig-zag technology-led brick kilns because it helps fight air pollution, save both public lives and the environment. Also that these new kilns running on zigzag technology offer hope as they are environment friendly and make a strong business case, " Malik Amin stressed.