Complying with a National Green Tribunal (NGT) direction to shift to non-polluting technology, Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod to an action plan for conversion of natural-draft brick kilns to induced-draft ones with rectangular and zigzag setting.
Earlier the kilns have been using pet coke leading to emissions, which polluted the environment.
After the orders by the NGT and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to the states to ensure induction technology to fire the kilns, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) had directed the kilns to shut operations from October 1 to March 31, 2019. But, out of 2,800 brick kilns, less than 500 have adopted the pollution-free technology so far.
Wednesday’s Cabinet decision allows brick kilns to adopt the technology by September 30, 2019.
A government statement said the draft order had been proposed to regulate the process of conversion of brick kilns to induced-draft technology under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
As per the proposed directions, the brick kilns within non-attainment cities will not be allowed to operate in pursuance of directions issued by the CPCB on July 1, 2016, no new brick kiln will be allowed to be established in the state without having induced-draft technology with zigzag setting, and no conventional brick kiln with natural-draft technology will be allowed to operate beyond September 30, 2019.
The brick kilns in process of conversion or yet to start are required to pay environmental compensation on the basis of `polluter pays principle’ to the PPCB with effect from February 1, 2019, till the adoption of the induced-draft technology. The compensation has been set at Rs 25,000 per month for zig zag setting with kiln of a capacity equal to more than 30,000 bricks per day and Rs 20,000 per month for kiln of capacity less than 30,000 bricks per day, said the statement.
The department of science and technology, through Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, will provide the necessary technical assistance for the implementation of the action plan. The department of power will ensure 15 horsepower electricity connection as required by the brick kilns for running the induced-draft fan. The deputy commissioners will monitor the progress of the activities.
The government statement said, as per the current status of conversion of brick kilns in the state, 482 has already converted to the new technology and 559 are in pipeline.
The statement added around 2,800 brick kilns are operating in Punjab, producing around 15-20 billion bricks per annum. This constitutes about 8 per cent of total production of the country and the brick kiln industry employs about 0.5-0.6 million workers.
Land for housing societies
The Cabinet allowed Improvement Trusts and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to allot land for Employees Cooperative Group Housing Societies (CGHS) at reserve prices. The move is aimed at providing affordable housing to government employees, a long-pending demand.
As per the plan, an acre of land will be allotted for 40 employees on the pattern of Maharashtra. The Cabinet also gave its nod to reserve 3 per cent of residential plots for the allotment to government employees.
Reservation will be provided to the employees of Punjab government, its boards, corporations, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, apex institutions working under cooperation department like Markfed, Milkfed, Punjab State Cooperative Bank, Housefed etc, and universities funded by the government (except private one).
The applicant should have completed at least five years of regular service or should have retired within the last five years from the date of commencement of the scheme.
Allotment will be made only to those who do not own a plot or an apartment.
More salary to vet pharmacists, Safai Sewaks Cabinet gave its approval to enhance emoluments of service providers (veterinary pharmacists) and Safai Sewaks of rural development department. While the emoluments of service providers have been increased from Rs 8,000 to Rs 9,000 per month, those of Safai Sewaks have gone up from Rs 4,000 to Rs 4,500 per month.
Amendment to GST incentives
The Cabinet also approved an amendment to Goods and Services Tax (GST) incentives notified under the Industrial and Business Development Policy, 2017, that will allow the industrial units to choose between Net GST incentives or incentivised State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) on intra-state sale.
The incentivised SGST to be considered for reimbursement will mean that the eligible unit will be entitled to get the amount paid through cash ledger against the output liability of the SGST on sale of eligible products.
The eligible unit shall first have to utilise all the eligible Input Tax Credit (ITC) available in its credit ledger maintained on the common portal, including eligible ITC of Integrated GST as provided under Section 49 of the Act as may be amended from time to time, before adjusting the SGST amount through cash ledger.
The amendment has been done following a demand by the industry.