The Supreme Court has directed the Central Pollution Control Board and State Pollution Control Boards to conduct surprise inspections at brick kilns in the National Capital Region (NCR) to ensure that the production is carried out in terms of the notification issued by the Environment Ministry.

A Bench comprising Justice K M Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy passed a slew of directions for operation of brick kilns in NCR.

The Court directed that those units, located in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, which have the consent to operate and have also declared the production capacity are permitted to operate subject to certain conditions.

"The officers of both Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards shall conduct surprise inspections without any notice and warning to the persons running the units from time to time to ensure that the production is being carried out in terms of the aforesaid notification", the Bench directed.

"Production will be further subject to the condition that it will be limited to the production capacity as per the consent granted by the respective state pollution control boards," the bench said.

The Apex Court also directed that persons running the units shall report at the end of every cycle, the actual total production which has been carried out in their units (arising out of each cycle) to the respective state pollution control boards.

The Court directed that "The state pollution control boards shall promptly intimate the Central Pollution Control Board, the said figures and on the date of the next hearing, the Central Pollution Control Board will produce a chart showing the production so that the Court may analyse as to whether there is a violation of this Court's order."

"The Central Pollution Control Board and the state pollution control board will monitor the impact of the pollution which is generated as a result of the units being permitted to operate, and actually carrying out the production in such form as is measurable," the Bench directed while posting the matter for hearing on May 6.

The Court mandated adoption of zigzag technology, vertical shaft or use of piped natural gas as fuel in brick kilns. "All brick kilns shall use only approved fuel such as piped natural gas, coal, fire wood and/or agricultural residues. Use of pet coke, tyres, plastic, hazardous waste shall not be allowed in brick kilns," it said.

The Apex Court was hearing a batch of appeals filed by various brick kiln associations challenging the National Green Tribunal's order on use of zigzag technology in brick kilns.

In zigzag kilns, bricks are arranged to allow hot air to travel in a zigzag path which results in better mixing of air and fuel, allowing complete combustion and reducing coal consumption by about 20 per cent.

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