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Photography/Pictures/Photos of workers and brick making industry at brick kilns in Dhaka, Bangladesh
I have been a keen aspiring photographer for quite a while now. However, due to time constraints caused by my full time job and also ensuring that I spend quality time with my family, it has been quite challenging to find sufficient time to pursue my photography passion to the fullest of extent. What it practically translated to, was that, it was very challenging to find the time to take trips out of Dhaka (where I live and work) for the purpose of pursuing photography. This has forced me to consider anything and everything photographable within a short range of Dhaka city. Very early in my role as an aspiring photographer, I was drawn to photography at brick kilns located in and around Dhaka city. Brick kilns provide great opportunity to photographers for taking great lifestyle and portrait photography. It is also possible to highlight the apparent paradox that they pose. On the one side, brick kilns produce the very bricks are needed to build the society, but on the other side, they are also contributing to the destruction of the very planet that we live in, by causing a very serious adverse impact on the environment.
Brick kilns are principally located at Ashulia and Mirpur beriband, which are only a stone’s throw away from where I live and I have visited brick kilns located at these areas over the last few years. I also took the time to do some in-depth research on brick kilns of Bangladesh and found out the shockingly severe impact they seem to be having on the environment of Bangladesh and also on the people in general. This hub is basically a compilation of my photography at brick kilns situated around Dhaka and also the overall environmental impact they are having in Bangladesh.
On an average, over 8.66 billion bricks are produced annually in Bangladesh which are valued at $450 million, and which makes up approximately one percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Furthermore, this is a high growth industry and it has a growth rate of over 5.3 percent over the last 10 years. As per records, there are now over eight thousand brick making factories within Bangladesh which produce different types and quality of bricks and also produce other construction materials such as brick chips, dust, soling and herringbone. One big positive side of this industry is that it is very labor intensive and employs a large number of workers (2,000,000 workers during peak-season and 800,000 workers during off-season).
Unfortunately, the brick making industry is one of the largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions and local pollution in the county. Recent studies have shown that the brick making industry emits over 6 million tons of Co2 every year, which is roughly the same amount of gas which would be emitted by 230,000 passenger vehicles! Without proper monitoring of construction and manufacture locations of brick kilns, hundreds of brick kilns have been set up near densely populated areas and without having the mandatory 120 foot chimneys, both of which are in violation of the Brick Burning (Control) Act, 1989, of the country. Furthermore, a large number of brick kilns are operating around the country without having the requisite license for carrying out such activity, which also directly contradicts the provisions of the Brick Burning (Control) Act, 1989.
Failure of the brick kiln owners to adhere to the construction guidelines of brick kilns set out in the Brick Burning (Control) Act, 1989 and furthermore, building of brick kilns near densely populated areas, are causing people of the country to suffer from severe levels of air pollution. The outskirts of the capital city, Dhaka, are dotted with hundreds of brick kilns, which is the number one cause for 'fine-particulate' air pollution in Dhaka.
Apart from the air pollution, two other grave areas of concern caused by brick kilns are the unchecked usage of firewood and unchecked usage of topsoil. Around 33 percent of the fuel used in brick kilns comes from wood fuel, which is creating a high demand for firewood, most of which comes from illegal felling of forest trees. Additionally, the industry is also engaged in extensive usage of topsoil, which are excavated without following any proper structured system and this in turn is having an impact on the ecology of the country.
The disadvantages of the current brick kilns are very clear. Unfortunately, this has not caused the stoppage of usage of such brick kilns. Such brick kilns are very popular in the industry due to their low capital requirements and high yield. Since Bangladesh is a developing country, there will always be a high demand for bricks for many decades to come, and keeping this in mind, it is high time for the concerned authorities to take notice of the existing scenario and introduce modern technology in the sector which will be both environmentally friendly and also efficient. All brick kiln owners have to be made accountable for their actions and it must be fully ensured that they are compliant with the provisions of the relevant laws.
From the photographer perspective, brick kilns are a treasure trove for photography work. Powerful portraits of working men, women and their children (who stay in temporary shanties on-site) can be taken from brick making sites. Furthermore, the labors’ work lifestyle, how they live in the temporary shanties, their sanitary facilities, etc., are all great areas for photography. All the photographs accompanying this blog/hub were taken by me from the Ashulia and Mirpur beriband area of Dhaka.
Please check out some of my other Hubs if you have the time!
- Kuakata: tranquility at the seaside (Photography locations of Kuakata, Bangladesh)
My personal travel and photography experience while on a photography safari to Kuakata, Bangladesh. The blog includes a number of photographs taken by me with my Nikon D3100.
- Timeout: Sylhet (Photography locations of Jaflong, Sarighat, Lalakhal, Sylhet, Bangladesh)
My personal travel and photography experience while on a relaxation/photography trip to Sylhet, Bangladesh. The blog includes a number of photographs taken by me with my Nikon D3100.
- Dhaka: a city beyond definition (Photography locations of Dhaka, Bangladesh)
I have written and included details about interesting photography locations within Dhaka that I have personally visited and shot at.
- Fields of gold (Mustard fields photography)
Some of my favorite photographs from a recent trip with 3 of my photography enthusiast buddies to a mustard field near Dhaka