HOA BINH — About 80 traditional brick kilns still operating in northern Hoa Binh Province will be replaced with modern production lines, according to local authorities.
The smoke and dust from the existing operations has long been considered a threat to residents' health.
Under a Government's decision, all traditional brick kilns were forced to stop operations by December 31, 2010.
However, lack of investment capital and knowledge on building and operating modern brick kilns had let the problem linger, said Tran Hong Quang, director of the provincial Construction Department.
"It's a hard thing for local authorities to remove the old kilns," Quang said.
Vice chairman of the Tan Lac District People's Committee, Dinh Cong Su, said it would take time to pull the old buildings down and the co-operation of brick kiln owners was vital.
Another difficulty is that the traditional kilns provide bricks for local buildings and jobs for local people.
About 76 million bricks are produced yearly in the province, according to the provincial Construction Department.
"We plan to remove the buildings by at least the end of this year in line with provincial plans," Su said.
Dang Van Son, owner of a traditional brick kiln in Tan Lac District's Man Duc Commune, said he knew that operating a traditional kiln was against local policies and negatively affected the surrounding environment.
However, he said he could not borrow enough capital from banks to upgrade production because he did not have enough collateral for a loan, he said.
Bui Thi Huong, head of Doi Village's Women Association, said that the number of local children with respiratory diseases was becoming higher and higher due to the dust and smoke.
More than half of the 130 local households are often covered in clouds of smoke.
Quang from the construction department said the department ordered district-level authorised agencies to take drastic measures to force the kilns to stop operation, but he admitted it was necessary to provide more capital and technological support for the owners.
In a related move, nearly 1,800 local traditional brick kilns will be forced to stop operations by March 1 under a decision by the northern Bac Giang Province People's Committee.
Statistics from the provincial Industry and Trade Department show that more than 1,100 old kilns have already closed. — VNS