Early Times Report

ANANTNAG, June 7: To cover ‘some of the losses’ incurred due to the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, Brick Kiln owners’ in South Kashmir have increased prices steeply.

According to Anantnag residents, Brick Kiln owners have hiked priced by 50% from the existing ceiling price. The brick Kiln owners are charging Rs 30,000 for 3000 bricks in violation of the approved government rates.

“The Government rate for 3000 bricks was just 18000 but later in year 2018 and 2019 they started charging Rs 20,000 for 3000 bricks but now they have crossed all limits and are charging Rs 30,000 for 3000 bricks and they (Brick Kiln owners) have also hiked freight charges,” Abdul Rouf, a resident of Anantnag told Early Times over phone.

This year, he said, 3000 bricks cost Rupees 35000 to Rupees 37000 in Anantnag district.
A group of residents said that black-marketing and illegal profiteering by Brick Kiln owners was going on under the nose of administration from last two months.
“The administration was alerted and complaints were filled but the officers at the helm allowed this loot deliberately,” they alleged.

Residents also alleged that the brick kiln owners were selling ‘B’ grade bricks as ‘A’ grade on exorbitant rates. “These brick kiln owners load ‘A’ and ‘B’ grade bricks in a tipper and easily mislead a customer,” they said, alleging the concerned government agencies instead of taking action against them were protecting them and helping them in looting common masses.
Early Times received similar reports from other districts of South Kashmir particularly from Kulgam district. “Brick Kiln owners have hiked rates in Kulgam district and were simply looting citizens of the district by selling them on exorbitant rates secretly,” a Kulgam resident said.
Residents also alleged that brick kiln owners were charging extra freight charges.

Justifying the hike, a brick kiln owner, who wished not to be named, told early Times that they were suffering from the last two years. “Since August 2019 we are suffering. No government helped us and we are on the verge of collapse,” he said.
He said that this year also that had paid labors but due to covid-19 they couldn’t make their brick kilns operational. “Whatever is the situation we have to pay our service provided be it land owners or laborers,” he claimed.
Deputy Commissioner Anantnag, K K Sidha on being contacted assured that he will look into the matter.
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