Nepalese brick-making industry could cut pollution by using more efficient kilns

The brick-making industry in Kathmandu Valley, which is largely responsible for severe pollution in the area, needs to introduce more energy efficient brick kiln technologies, and disseminate the information throughout the country, according to experts in Nepal.

According to a one-day seminar studying the cleaner and more efficient brick kiln technologies, in Kathmandu, attended by representatives from the Government and from the brick industry, more efficient technology is already available in India.

“Brick [making] is one of the major culprit[s] for the poor air quality in Kathmandu after vehicles,” said Kalyan Bahadur Shrestha, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supply in Nepal. His concern was shared by the Nepalese Secretary of the Ministry of Population and Environment (MoPE), Dr Govinda Raj Bhatta, who called for the dissemination of energy efficient technology for brick kilns throughout Nepal.

“The present emission problem from brick kilns in Kathmandu resemble the 1990 situation of India when large number of moving type Bull’s Trench Kilns were in operation,” said Dr Samir Maithal, an energy expert from the Tata Energy Research Intitute (TERI). “After 1996, when [the] government of India announced and introduced emission and stack height standard for brick kilns, [the] level of pollution came down dramatically.” Brick manufacturers changed to using Vertical Shaft Brick Kilns (VSBKs), with emissions ten times lower than the more traditional kiln types, said Maithal.

Dr Shankar Sharma, a member of the National Planning Commission, pointed out the importance of the brick-making industry, which provides a total annual income of NR1.25 billion ($1.68 million), and gives employment to many semi-skilled and unskilled workers. He pointed out that with 30% energy efficiency, brick kiln operators could save an equivalent amount of money and significantly reduce emissions.

According to a representative from the Brick Manufacturing Association, the main reason for poor emission from brick kilns is the poor quality of coal currently available on the market. He also highlighted the fact that the brick manufacturing industry in Kathmandu Valley provides employment to around 125,000 people.

The pollution in Kathmandu Valley is so bad, according to the Nepali Times, that at the airport the poor visibility in the valley has sharply increased the number of morning arrival cancellations and aborted landings by big jet aircraft in the winter. During the winter a temperature inversion traps the polluted air in the valley, exacerbating the problem, reports the newspaper.

Vehicle pollution and domestic fuel also contribute significantly to the pollution.

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