Wildlife in Bandhavgarh is facing a threat from brick kilns in Tala village, which serves as a buffer zone and a corridor for animals of the national park. Besides, the presence of kilns leads to loss of forests and agricultural land.
Naturalist Satyendra Tiwari, who has been active in the Bandhavgarh National Park for over two decades, has urged Umaria collector to take action against brick kiln owners before a big damage to land and forests is caused there.
In his petition, Tiwari alleges that the brick kilns, though a purely commercial venture, do not use commercial fuel, but firewood extracted from forests, on occasions in form of timber. "I have seen the forests disappearing from the surroundings of Tala village over the years," he points out. The use of top soil of farm land makes land infertile, taking down agricultural produce yield against the need for greater production of food grains.
Added to that, smoke billowing out of brick kilns contains carbon monoxide, which is more harmful than carbon dioxide to both the human and plant life. All fruit-bearing plants within the radius of 500 meters of any brick kiln see a major share of the crop. In the flowering season, bees and other insects stay away from the fruit bearing trees because of pollution caused due to heat. Brick kilns raise the temperature of the surroundings areas by 4-5 degrees.
According to Tiwari, the sudden increase in temperature and constant blow of hot wind force insects that help in pollination to avoid these trees at a crucial time, impacting pollination and resulting in less production. This, he said, affects farmers directly. Tiwari has requested the collector to shift these kilns to some other place before May when the brick kiln season starts.
Wildlife Conservation Trust Director Anish Andheria said, "Apart from being one of the biggest sources of air pollution, brick kilns put pressure on both trees and soil, leading to an irreversible damage to the surrounding forests. The presence of brick kilns within the Tala village undoubtedly puts stress on Bandhavgarh and its tigers. The kilns also cause erosion thereby negatively influencing the hydrology of the landscape. Stringent steps must be taken to stop existing kilns and put a complete ban on construction of such units within 10 km from the tiger reserve boundary."
Conservator of forest RK Pathak says "Tala is a small village and residents are making bricks for their own use, I do not think it is on a large scale, but since you brought it to my notice I will see." He added that they even use husk to prepare bricks and he would ensure that no timber was used in this process.
CK Patil, park director says guidelines exist for declaration of eco-sensitive zones around the national parks and wildlife sanctuary, but it is not implemented yet. "Since, it is in Tala village, which is not under my jurisdiction, I cannot take action against brick kilns owners," he said.
When contacted, Umaria collector NS Bhatnagar, said he received a letter and asked SDO revenue to find out and appropriate action would be taken if any kind irregularity or harm to timber wood was found out.