Stop use of top soil for making bricks, says housing minister

Staff Correspondent

Housing and public works minister Mosharraf Hossain on Thursday said that the nation would have to face food crisis again if the practice of using top soil of agricultural land for manufacturing bricks could not be stopped immediately.
‘We have to protect top soil of agricultural land, otherwise we have to face another famine in the near future as top soil is imperative for crop cultivation,’ he said.
Addressing a workshop at a hotel in the capital, the housing minister said that instead of using top soil the manufacturers could use dredged sand and soil of different rivers for manufacturing bricks.
He said that there is no alternative but to go for using alternative and sunburn bricks made of sand and soil of rivers and other sources to protect the environment as well as to ensure sustainability in the food production.
Mosharraf advocated for using alternative bricks in building construction saying that the alternative bricks especially made of mixing sand and soil with cement was comparatively low cost and environment friendly.
He said that if a house is constructed with sand earth block per sqft cost will be Tk 1,200 while if a house is constructed with traditional bricks per sqft cost will be Tk 2,000 to 3,000.
Oxfam in association with the Housing and Building Research Institute, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association and Jagorani Chakra Foundation organised the workshop to mark the national inception of its European Union funded project titled ‘Promoting Sustainable Building in Bangladesh’.
HBRI director Mohammad Abu Sadeque, presiding over the workshop, said that if the practice of using top soil for manufacturing bricks continued there will be the need to import food for five crore people.
He said that neighboring India and China had already imposed a restriction on the use of top soil for manufacturing bricks, but Bangladesh should have taken such initiative long before them due to its scarcity of land.
Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of BELA, crticised the government’s role in promoting alternative building materials innovated by the HBRI saying that the government role was neither restrictive nor promotive.

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