Kilns shut, labourers missing: Kashmir unit holders mull importing bricks from Punjab
Srinagar: Unavailability of non-local workers has severely hit the brick manufacturing with kiln owners mulling to import the construction blocks from the neighbouring states.
Centre recently eased restrictions and allowed resumption of construction activities. However, the bricks are short in supply which has hit the construction works.
“On average, brick kilns require more than 45,000 labourers. Currently, only 1000 persons are working here. Most of the brick kilns are shut,” said Zahoor Ahmad, president, Brick Kiln Owners Association.
Ahmad said non-local labourers are unable to reach Kashmir due to the Covid-19 crisis. “Non-local labourers are asking us to get permission from the UT administration so that they could travel to Kashmir. Besides, they are seeking passes and demanding that the government put them under quarantine at respective brick kilns,” he said.
Ahmad said the valley would have to import bricks from neighbouring states including Punjab if the non-local labourers do not arrive in the coming days. “If the situation persists, we won’t have any option left other than to import bricks from Punjab,” he said.
Data reveals that over 300 brick kilns are operating in the Kashmir Valley. As per the estimates, 45,000 labourers are required to run the kilns. Most of the labour force hail from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab.
Mostly, brick manufacturing starts from May 15 till November. However, this year due to the lockdown, the outside labourers could not arrive on time.
“I had to stop the construction of my house because of a shortage of bricks. The price of bricks has gone through the roof. Earlier I was purchasing 1000 bricks for Rs 7500. Now it is being sold at Rs 10,000. Plus stocks are not available,” said Sajjad Ahmad, a resident. “
An official told The Kashmir Monitor that they are in a process of permitting outside labourers to travel to the valley to keep construction works going in the Union Territory.